PAKISTAN TOUR OF ENGLAND, 2018
Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan during their partnership at Lord’s. © Getty
The Test leg of Pakistan’s tour of the British Isles may have ended abysmally for the visitors, but there were many positives for them. They defeated Ireland in the one-off Test in conditions alien to them, and then outclassed England across all three departments at Lord’s to win the first match – inside 10 sessions – of their two-match Test series.
The victory at Lord’s meant that for the first time since their last Test series win in England in 1996, Pakistan looked at a series win while entering the final match of the series. Only for England to stage a brilliant comeback at Headingley and level the series 1-1.
The comprehensive show at Lord’s came after a few fielding lapses at Malahide. Amid the whole bunch contributing in the win though, were some exceptional occasions (a well-crafted partnership or a scorching spell) that ended up shaping the course of the contest. For Pakistan, it was in the form of the lower-order partnerships between Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf, who were playing their second and maiden Test respectively, in Malahide and London.
After being asked to bat, Pakistan were five down for 153 against Ireland in what were the most difficult batting conditions on the entire tour. From that position, they ended up declaring the innings at 310 for 9, thanks to a brilliant 117-run seventh-wicket partnership between the duo with Faheem scoring 83 and Shadab scoring 55.
“Shadab and I put up a partnership when our team needed it,” said Faheem while reflecting on his Test debut in a video interview released by the PCB after Pakistan’s practice session at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh. “Both of us youngsters were playing and we were guiding each other. Our partnership helped our side significantly in posting a lead and winning the match.”
What stood out for Pakistan was the rate at which Shadab and Faheem scored as a pair. Ahead of this tour, Pakistan chief selector Inzamam ul Haq had laid emphasis on the necessity of improving scoring rates in Test cricket and the former Pakistan captain would have been pleased to see the two as they scored at 4.05 runs per over in Malahide.
The scoring rate got even better during their next partnership at Lord’s. Unlike Malahide, this time, Pakistan were well in control of the match as they were already 43 runs ahead of England’s paltry 184 when Shadab and Faheem got together on the pitch. They put up 72 runs at 4.69 an over.
“Weather conditions were quite similar to Ireland in England. But, the pitch was relatively better [batting-wise],” Faheem said about the Lord’s Test. “There wasn’t any pressure because Shadab and I always got to bat together on the tour. If I was missing the ball or making errors, Shadab guided me. We joked in the middle so we don’t feel any pressure.”
Pakistan scored 363 and were set a 64-run target which they achieved with nine wickets in hand.
Pakistan, who are practicing in Edinburgh for the two T20Is against Scotland on June 12 and 13 – their only white-ball outing on the tour, have already had to curtail their practice session owing to persistent rain. Despite the roadblocks, Faheem remains positive about the weather on the matchday. He also believes that the team has it in it to quickly switch gears and get ready for the shorter format’s challenges.
“Hopefully the weather will be good here in Scotland like it was in England,” Faheem said. “It is now time to switch to the shorter format. We had to remain patient in the Tests, but now the side – which will do better on the day – will succeed.”