ISLAMABAD: The miraculous near-win Pakistan almost pulled off in the first Test against Australia means that the confidence in the camp is supposed to be high, but former captain Aamir Sohail has warned the players to not be overconfident and tread lightly. After being completely outplayed in the first three innings, Pakistan staged a late comeback and nearly achieved what would have been a record chase in Test match history; in the end falling a mere 38 runs short of the target. The visitors’ outstanding fightback meant they left the Gabba with their heads held high instead of the actual winners. While theirs was certainly no mean feat, Sohail has warned Pakistan players to keep their collective feet on the ground in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. “My message to the players is don’t feel too confident because the red ball will zip through a lot at MCG, so if our batsmen can’t find boundaries, they should look to rotate the strike and find singles and doubles,” Sohail said Wednesday. “Regarding our bowlers, they will have to learn on the fly to hit the right line and length. Our frontline pacers have often struggled in Australia so our current crop will have to learn quickly where to pitch the ball to get the best results.”
When asked if Sohail Khan should be drafted in for the struggling Rahat Ali, the former opener concurred and advised against fielding an all-southpaw pace unit a la the Brisbane Test. “The Australian batsmen have gotten used to the left-arm angle so something needs changing. Sohail Khan is an option, if he is fit,” he said. Sohail also commented on leg-spinner Yasir Shah’s struggles and questioned why a glaring error in his bowling action that limits his ability has not yet been corrected. “Yasir is not someone who spins the ball a lot, which I’m quite surprised with considering he has worked so much under Mushtaq Ahmed. He bowls front-on which is why his leg spin isn’t that vicious and most of his wickets come on either straighter balls or googlies,” said Sohail. The former captain was also critical of captain Misbahul Haq. “He was defensive in the first innings and ultra-defensive in the second. I don’t understand the point of trying to stop leaking runs in Australia when you’ve conceded a first innings lead. He should’ve gone for wickets as that would’ve set the tone for the second Test.
He continued, “Defensive captaincy may have worked in England, but it was down to the wickets there being uncharacteristically slower. Wickets in Australia are different. Misbah will have to think out of the box.” Sohail’s former teammate Rashid Latif had a more optimistic take as he commended the team for their valiant effort and told them to enjoy the Boxing Day Test, which he feels is unlike any other match. “Not everyone gets the chance to play a Boxing Day Test. An audience of 65,000 people in a Test match is not an everyday occurrence so our players should consider themselves lucky and cherish these moment,” said Latif. However, the former wicketkeeper also rued the team’s lack of planning. “Our players can’t exploit the opposition’s weakness. Everyone has their flaws, even Mitchell Starc – as good as he is, he is a bit wayward over the wicket,” he added. “Our batsmen should have targeted that, but they didn’t. They need to learn to do so.”