The English challenge: Five issues Pakistani batsmen must address
Misbah-ul-Haq and his men visit the English shores for the first time since 2010 as they look to end their 20 year wait of winning a series in England. The task is challenging, no doubt, but it will all come down to the desire and willingness to succeed and overpower their strong opponents who are a force to reckon with at home.
The number three ranked Test side Pakistan have their work cut out as they look to survive and at the same time thrive in testing conditions which have always posed a major problem especially for their batsmen.
Analysing form Pakistan’s previous trips to England let’s dissect the problems faced by the Pakistani batsmen on English soil.
Playing every ball on its merit
Although the conditions in England are demanding but this does not mean Pakistani batsmen should go into their shell as this means that the batsmen do not play every ball on its merit and sometimes are way too defensive than required.
It is imperative that they latch onto every opportunity that comes their way in the shape of loose deliveries or else this will consequently increase the pressure and will inevitably result in wickets falling in a heap.
Surviving the first hour
Majority of the Asian batsmen tend to face an uphill task of surviving the first hour in typical English conditions with the new ball swinging and overcast weather which makes things even more challenging. The Asian batsmen including the Pakistanis are not used to such circumstances and adapting is an issue for them straightaway as they used to playing on flat Asian pitches which offer little help to bowlers.
Quality English fast bowers in the shape of Stuart Broad and James Anderson will be testing the Pakistani batsmen in friendly conditions which is why it is important that the batsman buckle up and dig in, especially in the first session, in order to keep their wickets intact and setting up a solid platform for the middle order where the likes of Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan and others can build on it and post a handsome total.
Posting totals in excess of 300
Pakistan have more than decent bowling attack which can topple any good batting line-up which is why the batsmen need to post good totals on the board every time they go out to bat because otherwise the bowlers are left with too much to do and they have to carry the majority of the workload and the success ratio of the side tends to go down.
Last time Pakistan visited England, in 2010, the batting failed miserably and in a space of four test matches the green shirts were dismissed for less than a hundred thrice and their highest score was 308 which was also the only time they crossed the 300 mark barrier.
The tail needs to wag
Gone are the days when the bowling side used to start thinking about their batting after dismissing the oppositions’ top 6-7 batsmen because now it is absolutely vital that the tail wags a bit because the runs they add towards the end are extremely crucial and can change the complexion of the game to a great extent.
Pakistani tail have disappointed with the way they bat and have thrown away their wickets despite the situation demanding them to stick with their senior pro. This approach needs to change and the likes of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah and others need to add their fair share in the total.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the game is the players’ technical ability to cope with such demanding conditions because at the end of the day it’s about how strong your technical side to batting is because it will get you through the toughest of situations.
Pakistani batsmen, due to their continuous matches of flat tracks, find it difficult to counter the moving as they commit themselves on the front foot way to early which goes against them because in England it is extremely important to play the ball as late as possible as it gives you a much better scope of succeeding. Lack of feet movement is another major issue as they batsmen fail to get in line with the ball and leave their bat hanging to moving deliveries which eventually results in nicking the ball to the keeper to providing catching practice to the slip cordon. Pakistani top and middle order batsman will have to counter this technical aspect of the game and hence ensure that they are in a better shape to deal with English bowlers in seaming and swinging conditions.
Although the aforementioned points are highlighted whenever the Pakistan team faces England but hardly ever do we see our batsmen learning from their mistakes. New faces come and go but the root cause of the problem still remains which is why it is essential that the batsmen realise their mistakes and put in the hard yards to ensure that they do not repeat the same old story once again.