Shahid Afridi Insisted That Pakistan’s Priority Was Not To Lose 1st Test Against Australia

Shahid Afridi spoke in detail about the pitch condition and the mindset with which Pakistan played in the first Test against Australia in Rawalpindi. The first Test between Pakistan and Australia ended in a dull draw in Rawalpindi on Tuesday. Opting to bat on a run-filled surface, Pakistan had made 476-4 before declaring their first innings at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

By the time they bowled out Australia for 459 on the final day, the chances of any team winning the contest had evaporated. Pakistan decided to bat on allowing Imam-ul-Haq, who went into the match without a century in his previous 11 tests, to score his second hundred of the contest.

Imam-ul-Haq @ AFP

Shahid Afridi: Bottom-line Of Pakistan Was Not To Lose The 1st Test

Many in the cricket fraternity were critical of the pitch conditions and former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi also joined the debate, insisting that the hosts’ priority was to not lose the game.

“They didn’t think about Australia, the bottomline was ‘we shouldn’t lose’. But in the next two Tests in Lahore and Karachi, they have to make good pitches. You have to take advantage of your home series, or else when you go to Australia, you’re going to struggle,” Shahid Afridi said.

Shahid Afridi played in 27 Tests, 398 ODIs and 99 T20Is for Pakistan.© AFP
Shahid Afridi played in 27 Tests, 398 ODIs and 99 T20Is for Pakistan.© AFP

Left-arm spinner Nauman Ali took a career-best 6-107 on the grassless pitch to give Pakistan a 17-run, first-innings lead. Imam-ul-Haq followed his 157 in the first innings total of 476-4 declared with an unbeaten 111 in his first test since November 2019.

His opening partner, Abdullah Shafique, also prospered to record his maiden test hundred and was unbeaten on 136 when Pakistan finished the fifth and final day on 252-0 in its second innings, leading by 269 runs.

Shahid Afridi: Team Combination Of 7 Batters And 4 Bowlers Wrong And Won’t Work Everytime

The former Pakistan captain also criticised Babar Azam and the team management for not being more aggressive with their team combination on such a surface, further warning the side that fast bowlers can take a serious hit if the team continues to play with a defensive combination (7 batters, 4 bowlers).

“Our bowling strength is so good. Our fast bowlers can bowl out this Australian side. And it isn’t as if our batters cannot play the Aussie bowlers. Cricket has grown over the past many years, it is time we grow as well. If you want people to count you among the likes of South Africa, England, Australia, New Zealand, you need to stay positive,” said Shahid Afridi.

Azhar Ali AFP
Azhar Ali AFP

“I’ve been playing for long and I know it is there since the start (the combination of seven batters and four bowlers). Six genuine batsmen are enough in any team, then you have an all-rounder and bowlers. But we always play with this combination (7-4).

“This isn’t going to work. Our batsmen are in form. If you are making pitches like these, you will have to play bowlers or else these fast bowlers will be at the risk of injuries.”

Australia’s top four, including Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, and Steve Smith missed out on well-deserving centuries while Pakistan’s Azhar Ali top-scored with 185 in the first innings and Imam-ul-Haq scored tons in both innings. Abdullah Shafique, also prospered to record his maiden test hundred.

Pakistan 476 for 4 dec (Azhar 185, Imam 157, Shafique 44, Cummins 1-62, Lyon 1-161) and 252 for 0 (Shafique 136*, Imam 111*) drew with Australia 459 (Khawaja 97, Labuschagne 90, Smith 78, Nauman 6-107)

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