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Misbah Needs to Find a New Formula For Victory in a Bowling Friendly Era

Batting averages have dropped significantly in the past two to three years

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Misbah has generally been a slow starter. His batting style was based solidity and attacking a few bowlers once he was settled. His success as a captain was built on containment. Azhar Ali the batsman, also takes his sweet time. That fitted well into Misbah’s strategy as captain. Slow solid starts that are aimed that grinding the opposition down had been the modus operandi. That made Pakistan one of the best test teams, especially in familiar conditions.

Post Misbah’s retirement, things have changed a fair bit. Bowlers around the world have really made a comeback of sorts. 2018 was one of the worst years for batsmen in terms of averages since teams started playing test cricket. Things haven’t gone a whole lot better ever since. Not many places embody that change then England. Batsmen, especially top-order batsmen have their work cut out. This doesn’t fit into the Misbah model.

Neither does his containment plans. Yasir Shah who once bowled with impeccable accuracy now can do it short or too full quite regularly. It could be perhaps that he simply isn’t getting enough overs in his system to get consistency and accuracy. Azhar Ali has already talked about the changing role of Yasir in the test side. No longer can the captain just bowl Yasir session after session and hold the opposition.

Shaheen Afridi is the type of a bowler, Misbah avoided most of his captaincy tenure. Perhaps is a higher quality but he bowls the kind of attacking lengths, which could end up leaking runs. Naseem Shah has been fairly consistent perhaps more than one would expect him to be at this age.

The age and the attack Misbah has, doesn’t really suit his ideology of cricket. The sample size is still relatively small but against weaker opposition, the quality of fast bowling has shone through. Against Australia and England, the inadequacies of the side have been somewhat exposed in different ways.

Misbah who clearly is the driving force behind the team will have to let go of his old mode and find a strategy that suits his team, the new era and the fact that Pakistan can actually play at home.  Azhar Ali is struggling for his own form and has always been a reactive captain. If the onus is put on the captain to find a “new method”, the tenure of Azhar and perhaps with it Misbah’s coaching would end in despair. Much like Azhar’s ODI tenure.

the authorAsjad Khan