Here’s What We Learnt From Pakistan’s Historic Series Win Against South Africa
Pakistan captain, Babar Azam, became only the fifth Pakistani to win his debut series as captain and became the first to clean-sweep his first series. Babar was initially appointed as the Test captain before the team toured New Zealand but was ruled out of the tour due to a thumb fracture during a practice session. The team performed below par without their main man and lost the series in a humiliating fashion.
Mohammad Wasim’s first task as the new chief selector of the national team was to provide the team management with the best possible players that could help Pakistan in winning the series. Nauman Ali, Tabish Khan, Sajid Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Imran Butt, Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel, Haris Rauf, and Kamran Ghulam were the nine new additions to the squad, rewarded for their outstanding performances in domestic cricket.
Pakistan ended the historic series in great fashion, but things were not always rosy for the men in green. Let’s have a look at the five takeaways of the series.
1. The Return of Fast-bowling
The Pakistani fast bowlers struggled in New Zealand and England. There were no noteworthy performances from the pacers, and it was one of the main reasons for the team’s poor performance. With Test cricket returning to Pakistan, the fast bowlers have finally put on a good display.
Pakistani pacers have taken four five-wicket hauls ever since Test cricket resumed in the country. This was unheard of during the team’s run of home matches in the United Arab Emirates.
Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi rose to the occasion and showed that fast bowling is well and truly alive in the country. Hasan Ali picked up a ten-wicket haul in the second Test match and finished as the leading wicket-taker of the series with 12 wickets to his name. Shaheen Afridi picked up 7 wickets in the series, including four wickets in the final innings of the second Test match.
2. Strong Lower Order
Pakistan’s lower order showed resistance in New Zealand, but in this series, they showed their match-winning ability. Mohammad Rizwan, Faheem Ashraf, Nauman Ali, and Yasir Shah fought valiantly throughout the series and helped their team put on numerous comebacks in both matches.
Faheem Ashraf scored two half-centuries in the series. His second one was particularly brilliant. His 78* in the first innings of the second Test match helped Pakistan post 272 on the board.
Similarly, Mohammad Rizwan’s brilliant century in the second innings of the second Test match helped Pakistan post a formidable total on the board and comfortably beat the Proteas, leading to a historic Test win.
Nauman Ali and Yasir were equally handy with the bat and supported their senior partners well.
Pakistan’s batting in this series:
3. Brilliant Fielding
Pakistan’s fielding was a major talking point on their tour of New Zealand. They dropped too many opportunities in the series, and that ultimately led to the defeat. There was a much-improved performance in the field this time around.
Although Imran Butt and Abid Ali failed with the bat in the series, they took crucial catches in the series. Butt took 6 catches in the slips and was termed by Wasim Akram as the best slip catcher he has seen in Pakistan. Abid Ali was extraordinary at short fine leg and silly point in the first Test match as well. He took three catches in the second innings of the first Test match.
Pakistan’s ground fielding was exceptional as well. They saved plenty of runs and looked sharp. Captain Babar Azam also appreciated the efforts of the fielders throughout the Test series and said that they would improve even further if they continued the same level of enthusiasm and passion
4. Top Order Batting Woes
Pakistan’s top-order seemed fragile throughout the Test series. Imran Butt, and Abid Ali, failed in each of the four innings and put some question marks on the opening slot going into the future series. Although their frailties with the bat were compensated by a solid middle and lower-middle order.
Fawad Alam scored a brilliant century in the first Test match and reminded the world that he should have been part of the national side for the past 10 years. Mohammad Rizwan was excellent with the bat once again while Babar Azam contributed with the bat in the second Test match. Azhar Ali also scored a half-century in the first Test match and Faheem Ashraf proved a genuine all-rounder.
Pakistan needs to sort out their top order before it costs them games. The lower-middle order cannot bail a team out every single time. It is a ticking time bomb that can explode at any time.
5. Team Game
Cricket is a team game, and Pakistan showed that in the Test series. Major contributions from each player of the playing eleven were on display during the Test series. Although openers could not contribute much with the bat, they took crucial catches and fielded exceptionally well.
The middle-order helped stabilize the situation multiple times throughout the Test series. Babar Azam’s contribution with the bat left the fans a bit disappointed, however, he made up for it with his smart captaincy.
Azhar contributed with the bat in the first Test match, Fawad scored a brilliant century, and Rizwan played his usual gutsy innings and scored his first Test century. He was brilliant behind the stumps as well.
Faheem contributed heavily with the bat throughout the series. Spinners were exceptional in the first Test match, picking up seven wickets each, including a first five-wicket haul for the debutant, Nauman Ali. Both Nauman and Yasir were magnificent with the bat as well.
Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali ran through the South African batting lineup in the second Test match and finished off the resistance by Proteas. Hasan made a dream comeback to the side with a ten-wicket haul in the second Test match.
Pakistan will be hoping that this new-look Test squad will build on this victory and improve even further to compete with the top four Test sides in the world. The signs look promising as the team dealt with several problems heading into this series.
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