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August 10, 2020

Sarfraz Nawaz blames Azhar, pacers for defeat

Sports

August 10, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Poor captaincy backed by inexperienced pace attack helped England snatch victory from Pakistan in the first Test at Old Trafford, opined former Test fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz while talking to ‘The News’ on telephone from London.

Sarfraz was surprised at Azhar Ali’s handling the field and shuffling the available bowling resources on the fourth day, saying that Pakistan should have won the match by over 70 runs had there been a gutsy captain, knowing the art of keeping the pressure on the batting side.

“At 117 for five, England looked done and dusted on the fourth day afternoon. A shrewd captain instead of allowing them to score freely could have taken steps to reduce the run rate of scoring.

“Both Man-of-the-Match Chris Woakes and wicketkeeper batsman Jos Buttler were allowed to score freely. Had the efforts were made to dry down the runs, Pakistan had better chances of picking sixth wicket well in time. There was absolutely no innovation on display from the captain who never tried to use part timers to break the partnership. Shan Masood or Azhar himself should have bowled when the score crossed 150.”

The former Test fast bowler was unhappy with a totally raw pace bowling attack. “Though Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah are good, you can’t rely on inexperienced in Test cricket. It is a format where you need experienced campaigners. Surprisingly, the think-tank neither considered consistent Sohail Khan nor reverse swing exponent Wahab Riaz in the playing XI.

“Shaheen and Naseem don’t know how to utilize the conditions and how to reverse an old ball. So much so Shaheen looked too raw when it really mattered. He bowled far too wide at a time allowing the batsmen to settle down. There was a need to put pressure on English batsmen by trying to bowl at middle and off. That never happened,” Sarfraz said.

The Melbourne hero, who single handedly tormented Australian batting line-up with amazing figures of 9-86 in the 1978-79 series, said Mohammad Abbas’ pace was too friendly during the match. “He is a good bowler but way too slow. He also found it difficult to bowl with the old ball, leaving all the pressure on Yasir Shah. I am even not happy with Yasir, who is too good a leg-spinner to be treated like that.

“With surface assisting him, he should have been more accurate with his line and length. He was never consistent with good deliveries and that also turned out to be one of the reasons for Pakistan’s loss. He is a sort of bowler who can win matches single handedly but for that he is required to bowl exceptionally well. We were told that Mushtaq Ahmed had been working on his googly — that googly however was never on display in the first Test.”

Sarfraz said that Pakistan had all the opportunity to bat England out of the first Test by scoring 270 in the second innings. “There were good chances for that. Shan Masood did all the good work for Pakistan in the first innings. In the second when Pakistan lost him early, there was no other batsman to come to the rescue. Look at Azhar’s batting. His recent record in away series is too poor. He is fast becoming an easy pick for a quality pace bowler and believes me England have many.

“Azhar is a genuine candidate for leg before wicket as his technique against in-dippers is too naive. If he plays the same way in the second Test, better replace him for good.”

Sarfraz suggested Pakistan think-tank to be more realistic in their approach. They must include an experienced seamer if Southampton pitch gives a better look. “Experience in all departments is a must to win Test matches especially in away series.”