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Troubling times for Pakistan’s pace battery in Test cricket

Troubling times for Pakistan’s pace battery in Test cricket

The inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship is in full flow as teams are engaging in gripping battles to take early lead in this red-ball competition. India currently sits at the top of the points table with 120 points, while New Zealand and Sri Lanka have grabbed the second and third spot respectively. Claiming 2 victories in 4 games, Australia sits at the fourth position followed by England at fifth. West Indies are at 6th spot losing both their games.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, they are yet to make their debut in this tournament. The boys in green will start their journey in the ICC World Test Championship with a two-game Test series scheduled to take place against Sri Lanka in next month or so.

While the other teams are busy finalizing and improving their preparations for the future assignments, Pakistan has been hit with a massive setback as they sit vexed with an orphan pace battery. Seasoned campaigner Mohammad Amir took retirement from the red-ball cricket few weeks ago and now the exuberant paceman Wahab Riaz is likely to follow his path as the Lahore born has taken an indefinite break from the longest format of the game, giving a strong hint towards quitting the Test cricket.

To add insult to the injury, Hasan Ali currently seems out of form. He reacquired his bowling mojo in the last season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), where the 25-year old cricketer became the most successful bowler by picking 25 wickets across 13 games at a stunning bowling average of 13.64. However, Hasan wasn’t able to replicate his success in the International cricket as he was found struggling badly with his line and length – a factor which ultimately led the management to drop him from the national team during ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 tournament.

In this case, Mohammad Abbas comes across as the only established Test pacer with 66 wickets in 14 Test matches. On the other hand, Shaheen Shah Afridi seems a likely option to share the new ball with the domestic veteran. However, it is important to note that the 19-year old quick is only 3 Test matches old. While he has all the skills to shine in this format of the game, but expecting a teenager to deliver quickly without having much experience is harsh.

Moreover, the forthcoming tours of New Zealand and Australia would put these pacers under immense pressure as the swing of Amir and the bounce of Wahab was something Pakistan dearly needed to succeed in these countries. To lose the services of your two senior pros and having a regular pacer struggling for form, things do not look promising for the green team. Adding Pakistan’s batting woes, after the retirement of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan into the equation, gives you a perfect recipe of disaster as far as Pakistan’s chances in the ICC World Test Championship are concerned.

When compared with the rest of the world, Pakistan’s preparations look far from ideal. The current muddle will be a challenging task for the newly appointed coaching panel led by the head coach Misbah-ul-Haq whose aim is to make Pakistan a top team in all the three formats of the game.