Hamilton—Either wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan or dashing opener Sharjeel Khan are likely to replace Misbah-ul-Haq in the batting order when Pakistan face a resurgent New Zealand in the second and final test in Hamilton without their inspirational skipper.
Vice-captain Azhar Ali will take the reins after Misbah returned home following the death of his father-in-law and was later banned from the game by the International Cricket Council as punishment for his side’s slow over rate in their eight-wicket loss in the Christchurch opener.
Head Coach Mickey Arthur said in an interview to ESPN Cricinfo that Rizwan and Sharjeel were both being considered as replacement options but the final decision will be made after looking at the pitch.
“Mohammad Rizwan can slot into the middle order – he’s traveled around with us for a long time. He’s trained with us. He went through the England series… That’s one option. Or we can have a look at Sharjeel Khan.”
But Arthur suggested that Rizwan would be a preference because Sharjeel’s induction into the middle order will cause significant reshuffle.
Using Sharjeel at the top of the order will be “an issue because Azhar might have to go back down to three, and Babar Azam – our young gun, who I think is going to play for Pakistan for a long time and do really well – slides down to six and Asad Shafiq might have to go back up. It’s a lot of disruptions to our batting order”, he said.
Arthur said Sharjeel reminded him of David Warner when he came into the Australia side.
‘Wahab becomes weapon No. 1’
In response to a question about picking bowlers for the upcoming Test, Arthur said left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz was a possible option for the team because it is “more likely that the ball’s going to reverse-swing here”.
He said Wahab “becomes weapon No. 1” for the team due to his pace and ability to get reverse swing when Pakistan play in Australia next.
“He is a phenomenal bowler, because he provides us both options. We’ve just got to use him when the conditions are right. Then he becomes our trump card.”
Both sides head to Australia after the Test, where New Zealand will play three ODIs and Pakistan three Tests as well as a series of limited-over matches.—AFP