The Shaheens enjoyed a perfect whitewash against South Africa for the first time in Test Cricket history as the team won the Rawalpindi test on 5th day by 95 runs. There was suspense and drama on the last day as Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma had a partnership of 106 runs for the fourth wicket. But Pakistani fast bowlers made sure that South Africa could not survive until the end of Second session.
The new test captain Babar Azam could not have asked for a better debut series, winning against a side, which Pakistan had not beaten since 2003. It was not a South African side, like it used to be a decade back or in 90s, but still they were coming after whitewashing Sri Lanka.
The second test started for Babar Azam in best possible way, as he won the toss. The team was let down by openers once again, as Imran Butt and Abid Ali departed early, which will be Pakistan’s only concern from this series. The team lost 3 wickets for just 22 runs and then captain had to step up in a difficult situation.
Babar Azam and Fawad Alam rescued the side by adding 123 runs for the fourth wicket. Babar Azam could not complete his century on the second day, as he was dismissed in the first over of the second day. He would like to change his record after the intervals, as Pakistani captain, in his test career, has found it hard to find his rhythm again after a break.
Faheem Ashraf kept his marvelous form with the bat going and scored 78 not out to help Pakistan reach 272 runs total in the first innings. He has looked like a different player, since working with Mohammad Yousaf in the academy and has scored 357 runs in 7 innings at an average of 59.50.
Another player, who has improved a lot and was adjudged man of the match in the second test, is Hasan Ali. The Gujranwala-born Cricketer picked up 5 wickets in the first innings to restrict South Africa to 201 runs. It looks like he is back in the same mode, which helped Pakistan win the Champions Trophy back in 2017.
Openers failed in the second innings as well. Abid Ali scored 33 runs in 4 innings at an average of 8.25. On the other hand newcomer Imran Butt scored only 3 more runs than him, adding 36 runs at an average of 9.00. Interestingly, tail-enders scored much more runs than the openers, as both of them combined to make 69 runs whereas Yasir Shah scored 69 runs at an average of 34.5 in just 3 innings. Nauman Ali added 77 runs in 3 innings and all of these tail-enders added some valuable runs throughout the series.
One man who deserves the credit for guiding and batting with these tail-enders is Muhammad Rizwan, who was man of the series for scoring 166 runs at an average of 83. He scored a brilliant century in the second innings to help Pakistan set a target of 370 runs. He can also be called a man of crisis, as he has scored most of runs when Pakistani team was struggling and has best average of a wicket-keeper batsman in last 3 years.
This team definitely looks like a confident and balanced team, which can surely challenge any top side, even in overseas conditions as they have 2 fast bowler/all-rounders Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali, who can deliver with both bat and ball in crunch situations. Shaheen Shah Afridi also got 4 wickets when needed the most. They just need some openers who can score some runs regularly.
Pakistan is not the only country hosting the Test cricket in Asia at the moment, as Bangladesh is also hosting an inexperienced West Indian side. They Caribbean team was whitewashed in the ODI series and everything was going well for the Bangladeshi team in test match as well, until the debutant Kyle Mayers showed his magic.
Bangladesh had taken a lead of 171 runs in the first innings and had set a target of 395 runs in the fourth innings for the visitors. Such a total had never been chased by a Non-Asian side in Asian conditions before, but Mayers played a historic knock and helped his side chase the total for the loss of 7 wickets.
When he came to bat in the fourth innings the team was 59/3 and it looked like an impossible task for a debutant to play a winning knock in this situation. But he had a 216 runs partnership with Nkrumah Bonner for the fourth wicket, which shifted the momentum. Although batsmen after the dismissal of fourth wicket could not stay there with him for long, but he stood there till the end and made sure that his side got the victory.
It was the highest score for a debutant in the fourth innings of the test match. And his knock would surely be remembered for a long time. For Cricket world it was a good news as well, as West Indies has not produced a world class cricketer like Brian Lara or Shivnarine Chanderpaul for a while.
The third Asian side in action at the moment is Indian cricket team at home against England. The things are not going their way, as England has set a target of 420 runs for them in the fourth innings. After winning in Australia, they were hoping to win easily against the visitors at home, like it happened in the last tour of 2016-2017, but England’s captain Joe Root scored a double century. He is the man in form at the moment, who scored double century in Sri Lanka as well in the first test and then added 184 runs in the second test.
Indian would need a special effort from their captain Virat Kohli, who failed in the first innings. The home side would also have the pressure of booking their place in the final of inaugural test championship, as they are currently on top. But Australia, New Zealand and England are not far behind on the points table either.
Writer is a sports lover, who passionately watches Cricket, Football, Tennis and especially all sports featuring Pakistan. Previously worked for 4 mainstream channels Dawn, Samaa, Dunya and 92 News in past. Currently working with GNN.