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'Faheem Ashraf has the potential to become the all-rounder we need' - Younis Khan
Pakistan News

'Faheem Ashraf has the potential to become the all-rounder we need' - Younis Khan

Pakistan batting coach Younis Khan believes Faheem Ashraf can develop into a quality all-rounder like some his predecessors such as Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood after he slammed a fine 91 on day three of the first Test against New Zealand.

Pakistan seemed to be collapsing towards a sub-100 total when they found themselves struggling at 80/6 before Faheem and skipper Mohammad Rizwan forged a plucky 107-run stand for the seventh wicket.

After Rizwan fell for 71, Faheem carried on his freewheeling charge to take Pakistan past the follow-on target.

While Faheem was unable to reach the elusive three-figure mark, his heroics were widely praised by Younis, who deemed him as a long-term option in Pakistan's Test set-up.

"We need a player like Faheem Ashraf. Though we have a few spinners, we need that fast bowling all-rounder," Younis told reporters in a press conference.

"Waqar Younis was very keen to give him a chance in Test cricket. If he clicks with the bat and ball, he can fill the vacuum created [in the team] since Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood retired," Younis mentioned.

"Batting is all about patience and he is improving with each passing day, and he has the potential to become the all-rounder we need."

Younis also highlighted Rizwan's outstanding innings to rescue his team from falling deeper into trouble. Pakistan's stand-in captain Rizwan stole the spotlight in the third T20I against New Zealand by smashing a match-winning knock of 89.

The innings was preceded by a brief lean run for Rizwan in the format but Younis claimed the wicketkeeper's struggles reminded him of his hassles at adjusting to white-ball cricket.

Younis said the crucial innings in the Napier T20I helped him assess his game better and bat with more confidence in the Test match.

"He struggled a bit in the first two T20Is, reminding me about myself," he noted. "I would later get to know my game and make minor adjustments. So, my advice for him was to play his natural game. I told him to spend some time at the pitch and things will become smooth for you."

"He did that in the third T20I and took the form into the Test series, and he has already performed in the red-ball format. He is much mature now, and he knows his role, strengths and weaknesses," he added.

Despite the late resistance from Rizwan and Faheem, Pakistan's overall batting performance was quite ordinary as the top-order batters played excruciatingly slow in the morning session and were dismissed in quick succession.

Younis defended the strategy to adopt a sedate approach in the start but bemoaned the lack of partnerships which followed.

"The plan was very simple that just take your time and then accordingly, shift to the next gear. But we lost back-to-back wickets, which did not give us the momentum to follow the plan.

"In the end, we had that 107-run partnership, that gave us the impetus but good fielding from New Zealand [resulting in the run-out] again restricted us from scoring freely. I think these kinds of things we have to learn."

Younis asked his team to take lessons from New Zealand's first-innings recovery led by Kane Williamson that helped them post an imposing total of 431.

"It's all about partnerships, the same thing happened with New Zealand on the first day. They lost a couple of wickets quickly and then the captain took the responsibility and stitched 2-3 useful partnerships. As a young unit, you have to sometimes learn from your opposition too."

"At the moment, it looks like we are on the back foot and on the last day, we will come up with the next course of action depending on the target," he concluded.