Contenders for middle-order vacancies

July 30, 2017

Contenders for middle-order vacancies

The foremost task now before our selection committee is finding the replacements of the two greats who retired at the end of the West Indies series. The central contract list recently announced by the board gives a few hints about who is going to replace Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, veterans of 118 and 75 Tests, respectively.

Among the A category players only Shoaib Malik is a middle order batsman but he has retired from the longest version of the game.

The B category has Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq who were part of the team even in the presence of the two oldies. There is Imad Wasim who has played 26 ODIs and 19 T20Is but not yet a Test. He can be considered as he has an impressive average of 41 in first-class cricket.

In the C category there is Haris Sohail who is a competent middle-order batsman, has been scoring prolifically at the domestic level and performed brilliantly for two years in the ODI team from 2013 to 2015. He has an astonishingly high average of 52 in first class cricket.

In 22 ODIs, he has scored at an average of 43. He surely deserves a chance in the oldest format of cricket.

In the D category, there are Usman Salahuddin, Umer Amin and Asif Zakir.

Usman has a staggering average of 47 in first-class matches. He has as many as 19 first-class centuries. If Faisal Iqbal can play 26 Tests despite the fact that he has just 27 centuries in 213 games, Usman should play more than 50.

Umer Amin made his debut with Azhar Ali in 2010 summer in England. While Azhar has gone on to achieve quite a few milestones, Umer has struggled in the last seven years. He has been given many chances but has failed on most of the occasions. In four Tests, 15 ODIs and 10 T20Is, he has managed only one fifty, that too against Zimbabwe.

Asif Zakir, 33, is slightly older than the guys mentioned before but he has been in great form during the last two seasons. He performed creditably when given chances to play in Pakistan A. When Misbah was made captain in 2010, he was already 36, but he went on to play 56 more Tests. So why can’t Asif do the same?

The most glaring omission is that of Fawad Alam. He has always justified his selection, but ousted from the team after a few chances several times for unknown reasons. He is a good fielder and is super fit but is still being ignored. His average of 56 in first class speaks volumes about his potential.

He has 25 centuries in only 135 games. Ijaz Ahmed, who played 60 Tests from 1987 to 2001, had only 26 in as many as 169 games.

Contenders for middle-order vacancies