ISLAMABAD: Former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq believes Pakistan are better than England and the visitors could still win the ongoing three-match Test series.
“I think Pakistan team is better than England and we should have won the first Test [in Manchester]. I still believe Pakistan can still win the series. When you are going through a tough phase, the team’s body language should not change. This was clearly the case in the first Test because Pakistan players looked under pressure after their second innings batting collapse on the third day,” Inzamam said in a video on his YouTube channel as quoted by aninews.in.
“The role of the team management is vital after such a defeat because the players’ morale will be down. They need to talk about the positives, like scoring 300-plus runs and the first-innings lead, rather than focusing on the negatives,” he underlined.
In the first innings of the series opener at Old Trafford, Pakistan managed to gain an healthy-looking 107-run lead against England, but then the tourists were bundled out in the second innings for just 169.
The second Test between England and Pakistan would be played at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton from Aug 13-17.
Inzamam criticised Azhar Ali’s captaincy in the first Test, saying the Pakistan side missed a few tricks in defending 277. England chased the target successfully for the loss of seven wickets even after being reduced to 117-5. Jos Buttler (75) and Chris Woakes (84 not out) put up a vital 139-run stand for the sixth wicket to put the hosts on the victory path.
“England snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. All the credit goes to Buttler and Woakes. Both started playing their strokes and did not play defensive cricket. Pakistan fought hard in the match, I believe England should have been bowled out under 200,” Inzamam said.
“[Azhar’s] captaincy could have been better. When Buttler and Woakes were batting, short balls could have been tried, everyone knows that both these batsmen do not play short ball that well. I did not see any variation in Pakistan’s bowling,” Inzamam said.
Meanwhile, former opener Ramiz Raja said Pakistan team’s coaching staff needed to be more proactive after their shock defeat in the Manchester Test.
The 57-year-old believed that the coaching staff comprising legendary players like Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis could have stepped up in the crucial stages of the first Test because Azhar Ali was not in great touch.
“I would have wanted more out of them [coaching staff] in that situation because they all have gone through such games in their careers. When you got a captain who is not in great form, the coaching staff has to be more proactive. Also, they get good perspective sitting outside. England were allowed to take easy singles, close to 40 singles were taken by Buttler and Woakes through point. No one told Azhar Ali or Yasir Shah to plug that gap. I was frustrated with the field set-up. The bouncer was not tried. The strategy needed a revisit which didn’t happen unfortunately,” Ramiz said in a recent interview as quoted by cricketpakistan.com.pk.
The former opener said that only Pakistan could have lost from the position that they had been in during the majority of the encounter.
“Maybe, only Pakistan could have lost from that position. With such a lead they may have through 250 would be enough to roll over England. With five wickets down and big guns back in the pavilion at 117, allowing over 100-run [139 runs] partnership between Buttler and Woakes is the disappointing part. Mind you Buttler was playing for his position in the XI. Pakistan were little confused during that partnership.
“This has been happening with Pakistan quite often unfortunately. It was a superb partnership no doubt but why did Pakistan allow it? There is a reason their ranking is low in Tests (No 7),” Ramiz said.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2020