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Real test awaits Pakistan after ‘Tuk Tuk’ resurrection

They falter on many occasions, disappoint you and force you reconsider your expectations, yet they rise above all odds to surprise you in a staggering fashion. That’s Pakistan cricket team. Revolution

Their conduct of falling short of fans’ expectations is universal, but their secreted knack to come out of the blue and produce the best of the game is certainly a pleasant sight that every Pakistan cricket fan loves to watch.

The way Pakistan crushed the formidable Australian side in a two-match test series that recently concluded in the UAE was indeed a historic performance that will be remembered for long. The home side not only whitewashed the world’s top side, but also created some records that reaffirm Pakistan to be a team capable of challenging any top-rated team in the test cricket.

Pakistan’s seasoned middle-order player Younis Khan became the first batsman in 90 years to score three centuries in consecutive innings against Australia. The team green whitewashed the Kangaroos after 32 years and won a test series after 20 years. They last did in 1994 in a home series.

Our batsmen smashed nine hundreds, including a double ton by Younis, in the two-match series in most by any team in the tests.  Luckily Pakistan found skillful spinning duos in the test series in Zulfikar Babar and Yasir Shah to fill the vacuum after Saeed Ajmal’s exit [for the time being].

More to our glory, skipper Misbah-ul-Haq equaled the record of most wins by any Pakistan captain with 14 wins in 31 matches, followed by Javed Miandad and Imran Khan. That perhaps became possible that Misbah was retained as captain despite severe castigations against his game approach over the period of time since 2012. The captain also smashed a fastest test 50 off just 21 balls before scoring a 56-ball century to equal the fastest ton record by Viv’ Richards.

What’s more to be done?

First and foremost is Pakistan should come out the shell of euphoria and move on, especially to gear up for the World Cup which is just two months away to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in Feb-March 2015. Playing in those conditions is altogether a different story than showing your class in the Asian or UAE conditions. Let me be clear that it won’t be a child’s play to easily hammer, especially non-Asian teams, like Australia and South Africa in their familiar conditions.

Secondly, the Pakistan team management must be careful and pick the best bunch of players for the World Cup and avoid limiting their sights to the test squad that dismantled Australia. It should not be disregarded that inclusion of seasoned campaigners like Shoaib Malik and Younis Khan for the WC squad will add to the strength of the team. Idea to purely rely on young blood with only couple of seniors around might rebound on the team, as we have seen in the last Champions Trophy wherein our team badly faltered and lost all three matches of the initial stage.

The ‘Tuk Tuk’ factor

The captain who was under-fire before the test series became the cynosure for his vital contributions with the bat and deft captaincy. And rightly so. Misbah deserves all plaudits for the team’s convincing victory and his own performance against Australia.

Yet, it is an open secret that Misbah’s style of batting best fits in the five-day cricket due to his naturally slow approach with the bat, unlike Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan and even Muhammad Hafeez who do not consume much balls to settle on the crease. Misbah undoubtedly played a fabulous knock, but it should equally be considered whether his innings involved a mental pressure and a challenging situation.  When the skipper came to bat, Pakistan had already piled up a huge lead of 470 runs, hence, to be honest, there was no challenge. Mind you, let me reiterate that 56-ball century by Misbah was outstanding and no one snatch its credit.

Misbah was exceptional with the bat in second test and undeniably played a record-making knock, but it needs a little more time to rid him of the ‘Tuk Tuk’ moniker until he carries and proves his batting aggression in the ODIs, where he is often blasted for snail-pace approach. The skipper earned the ‘Tuk Tuk’ epithet from the World Cup Semi Final match against India at Mohali in March 2011 in which he consumed too may dot balls in chase of achievable 260-run target but failed to accelerate the run-rate, leading to Pakistan’s defeat. Misbah was considered the major culprit in defeat as he stood at crease till the end but failed to finish the game for Pakistan.

Leaving aside the past ordeal, what’s more important for Pakistan now is to carry their confidence in upcoming series, comprising three tests, two T20s and five ODIs, against New Zealand and more importantly the World Cup where it matters the most. Let’s hope we don’t get back to square one, yet again!

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