YOUNUS KHAN is slowly but surely is in the making of a legend for Pakistan cricket team. He is on the right path of success and taken his captaincy challenge to prove a point that he is not a “dummy captain”, but a leader who leads from the front. Unlike Malik, the burden of captaincy did not affect his batting, in fact it played an opposite role on his psyche. He realized that in the absence of his former colleagues Inzamam and Mohammad Yousuf the middle order is not so dependable and he has to play the anchor role which he did to perfection.
Having said that it does not mean the other batsmen should continue to play the role of a second fiddle and always look up to Younus Khan as a father figure to rescue them in the times of trouble. Players like Shoaib Malik and Misbah with ample experience should pull up their socks and get ready for a big score in Lahore. Malik should not consider himself as a “fifty-sixty” player. His test performance is poor but his 11 years of experience at the international level is enough to handle any kinda pressure under any given circumstances. Misbah too, must strive to prove his worth, just a solo century in test cricket is not something one would expect from him to cherish for the rest of his life. Kamran Akmal the fourth most experienced batsman and the so-called wicketkeeper must understand that a big hundred on a dead wicket may assure his place for another few matches, but not forever. He needs to do something with his butterfingers. They may have proved to be good and handy while he was dealing with the former skipper or while he is was spreading butter on Ijaz’s Butt and, not when he is keeping the wickets.
Doing analysis of a 5 day test match is always a difficult task, as one needs to rely too much on his memory or, jot down the notes. But, the postmortem of a dead test match is easy, one doesn’t need to delve deeper into the finer details of what went wrong and how those mistakes could have been rectified? The answer is simple, no more dead wickets. As Waqar Younus says, ” you need a grass on the wicket” and thats all.
At the end of the second day’s play when Sri Lanka posted a huge total of 644/7 declared, I said: “if Pakistan plays sensibly they can avoid defeat, if they play this match like a 50 over game or in twenty20 style they will end up scoring 250 odd runs.” Thanks God, Younus Khan played the anchor role just like Jayawardene the Sri Lankan captain did and partnerships evolved around his 313. Its a shame that he got out so cheaply on the 5th day after adding only 7 runs to his overnight total, because all Pakistanis were hoping to see him breaking, Inzamam and Hanif Mohammad’s record if not of Lara’s.
There is nothing much to write home about on this test match and now all focus is on Lahore. As expected the same squad has been retained but, the sources indicate that Sohail Khan will be replaced by Talha! Once again its a shame for the rookie fast bowler Sohail Khan if he is excluded in the second test. Because, it wasn’t his fault bowling a dead wicket, besides two catches of his bowling were dropped one by Malik and the other by Misbah. Getting wickets on a dead pitch is a rarity.
Among the batsmen I think Khurram Manzoor will go. I would like to see Fawad Alam in the team instead of the new batsman who scored a century in the two days warm up game against Sri Lanka. That kid is too young to be included in a crucial match because, Pakistan needs to win this match i.e., if they really want to prove a point to the rest of the world that staying away from the test arena for 14 months has not dampened their spirits. They fought bravely in the first test and were not intimidated by the huge total of 644 runs and neither by the deadly spin attack of Murali & Mendis. In fact they lofted them for sixes and fours.
If there is “a grass” on the Lahore pitch then Umar Gul & Co., should be able to extract some pace, bounce and swing but Vaas and Dilhara are also known to produce the same and Vaas especially is more experienced than Gul. So, the chances of winning for both sides are equal but, I still think Sri Lankan’s have an edge over Pakistan’s batting especially in players like, Jayawardene and Sangakara, both are capable of turning the tables and bring Sri Lanka on top. The chances of a draw in Lahore are very remote unless it rains or, the hooligans of Nawaz and Shahbaaz Sharif continue to march on the streets and burn tires or, damage properties to create chaos in the country and the teams decide to stay away from the trouble, then God bless Pakistan.