PAK v SA 2018-19

Mickey Arthur revealed the reason behind not playing Faheem Ashraf

Pakistan Head Coach Mickey Arthur has shared his thoughts on where did the team go wrong, after losing the Test series against South Africa.

The Green Caps lost the first two Tests — in Centurion and Cape Town — to surrender the three-match series against the Proteas.

Speaking about team’s reluctance to field five bowlers in the first two Test matches of the series, Arthur said that injury to leg-spinning all-rounder Shadab Khan played a major role in that decision— while also indicating a general lack of trust in the batting abilities of fast-bowling all-rounder Faheem Ashraf.

“I am a big fan of the five-bowler strategy,” Arthur said while speaking in an interview with ESPNcricinfo.

“It gives us the added option of providing our frontline seamers with a rest while still maintaining control of the innings. But to do that, we need a fully fit Shadab Khan, who is a genuine allrounder. With Faheem batting at seven, we feared the tail would be just a bit too long.”

The 50-year-old also shed light on the varying bowling strategies in England as compared to South Africa.

Faheem Ashraf not ready to bat at seven, said Mickey Arthur while speaking in an interview.

Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has occupied the No. 7 spot in both Tests thus far, recording a pair at the Centurion before hitting an impressive first-innings half-century at Newlands. Arthur added that while he believes that Faheem has a bright future, he remains a work in progress.

“In this challenging conditions, we need runs on the board, and we weren’t confident that if we played Faheem at 7, followed by four bowlers, we were giving ourselves the best chance of making enough runs.”

Faheem Ashraf not ready to bat at seven, said Mickey Arthur

In England, we did play Faheem Ashraf, but the situation there is different. Over there, we could have the two spinners, Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan, bowling long spells, which provided the rest our fast bowlers needed, he said.

“Make no mistake, I’m a huge admirer of Faheem Ashraf, and I said so in England. I am confident he will develop into a proper all-rounder for Pakistan, but there is a process of natural evolution that needs to take place.”

Here in South Africa, we can’t go into a game with two spinners, which makes Shadab, a spinner but also a genuine all-rounder, so valuable. The bowlers will of course be fatigued if there’s no fifth option.

Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah – who has only claimed one wicket in two Tests of the ongoing series against South Africa — was still backed by the Pakistan head coach as he believes that if the matches went into day four and five, Yasir would have spurred his magic with the ball.

“In Yasir, we have a genuinely world-class bowler, and a real match-winner,” he said.

“I said it before and I’ll say it again, if we had taken these two matches into the fourth and fifth days, Yasir would have become a huge factor. I’m confident of that. For now, the problem for us is getting there, and we have got to look at ways of doing that.”

Arthur also said that the atmosphere inside the dressing room is completely fine despite reports about discord arising, after the second day of the first Test in Centurion.

“I also must stress, the team environment is absolutely fine. The way the guys batted on the third day is testament to that. The old Pakistan would have come out and been rolled over for 170-something again, and that would have been that on the third day. But we played to the end, and I draw great encouragement from that,” he said.

The third and final Test between Pakistan and South Africa will be played at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg from January 11.

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