Former coach Mohsin Khan has termed Pakistan’s Test squad for the tour of South Africa a balanced one that will be able to give the Proteas a tough time.
However, Mohsin warned that a good show was needed from Mohammad Hafeez, Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan and the trio will have to be at the top of their game in order to withstand South Africa’s strong pace attack.
“The batting line up is compact but they’ll be tested against a top quality South African pace attack and I firmly believe it would come down to the performances of Hafeez, Misbah and Younus,” Mohsin told The Express Tribune. “They’ll have to raise their game if Pakistan are to win.”
Mohsin also said that the in-form Nasir Jamshed has done well in one-day cricket but Test cricket will provide a different test for the left-hander and he would have to adjust his game accordingly.
Adnan’s exclusion a surprise: Mohsin
Meanwhile, the former cricketer was also surprised not to see wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal make the final cut, after the selection committee decided to include Sarfaraz Ahmed instead.
“Adnan’s exclusion is a real surprise for me,” said Mohsin. “Unless he was dropped on disciplinary or fitness grounds, I’m disappointed because it’s a tough tour and I would’ve liked to see two wicket-keepers in the touring party.”
He also welcomed the return of left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman – who completed his three-month ban for taking recreational drugs – stating his inclusion has brought balance to the team’s bowling attack. Mohsin added that the team had a good pace battery supported by Saeed Ajmal but Pakistan should now play two spinners if they felt that a pitch could offer turn.
He also appreciated the selectors giving a chance to youngsters Ehsan Adil and Haris Sohail, after impressive performances in domestic cricket.
Furthermore, Mohsin stressed that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should pay extra attention to improve the fitness of Mohammad Irfan, as he could be the trump card if he remained fit on tour.
He said there is a week before the team heads to South Africa – where hard pitches and outfields would take a lot of energy out of quickies – and PCB should conduct extra strengthening sessions with Irfan to improve his stamina levels.
“Irfan could prove lethal against South Africa if he stays fit for the whole series, but he needs extra attention before the team leaves and during the tour,” he stated.
Khurram would have been ideal: Latif
Meanwhile, former skipper Rashid Latif said that Khurram Manzoor should have been included as the third opener, citing his ability to play well on bouncy pitches as the reason.
“He was an ideal player to be drafted in as the third opener,” said Latif. “He is currently in top form which has seen him become top-scorer in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and it was the right time to bring him back. I also believe Sarfaraz should be kept in the side for the shorter version too.”
Pakistan’s tour of South Africa kicks off on February 1 with the first Test match in Johannesburg.
Convincing players will be difficult: ICC
The International Cricket Council (ICC) Chief Executive Dave Richardson has said that it supported the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) initiative of launching their Twenty20 league – the Pakistan Super League (PSL) – but insists they will have to make an extended effort to convince international players to participate.
“The ICC is supportive of Pakistan’s initiative,” said Richardson. “The PCB is a very able-bodied organisation and you underestimate its powers of persuasion. However, we are not security experts and it is up to the players to view their safety. With regards to teams touring, it is up to the member countries to decide, when it comes to individuals, they have to take advice from their own security advisors.”
‘Role of ICC limited’
Meanwhile, commenting on Bangladesh’s recent refusal to tour Pakistan, Richardson said that the role of the ICC is limited when it comes to pushing teams to visit the country.
”The tour could happen under the Future Tours Programme which is an agreement between the full members, the ICC is not a party to that agreement. Hopefully, sooner rather than later we will see more tours taking place, if not in Pakistan then certainly elsewhere.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2013.