Pakistan cricket teams head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has hinted at playing with two spinners in the first Test against England commencing from August 5 at Old Trafford. Pakistan team management has named three spinners, including Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan and Kashif Bhatti, in their extended 20-member squad for the series, which will be reduced to 16 tomorrow (Tuesday).
Talking to the sports journalists here on Monday via video conference, Misbah said his side could play with two spinners in the first Test against England. ‘Our side could look to exploit the traditional turn of the Old Trafford playing surface to make an early impression on the series. The Manchester wicket is just as it was for the England-West Indies match. It had spin from day one. We are keeping an eye and could consider playing two spinners, although there is time yet.
We will take a final decision after analysing pitch and conditions further,’ he said. Despite the unusual nature of the tour, Misbah believes that Pak cricket squad is well set for the three-match Test series and in good frame of mind after getting useful training and practice in English conditions. Pak cricket party has already spent more than a month in England, first at New Road in Worcester and then at Derbyshire’s Incora County Ground prior to entering the Old Trafford bio-secure bubble over the weekend.
‘Overall, I am contended and satisfied with the team’s preparations. We had to start from zero after being away from cricket for a period of three months due to Covid-19,’ he said and added: ‘The team is in good shape and we are hopeful about putting up a good show in the upcoming series. ‘When you play after a long gap there is bound to be some sort of nervousness but that is natural. As soon as the players step on the field, it will go away. The players are fresh and anxiously waiting for the series to begin,’ said the former Pakistan captain based on his stature and standing in the game.
Misbah also warned England ahead of first Test to begin on Wednesday that in Naseem Shah his team has a ‘complete bowler’ who can help the side win a Test match single-handedly. ‘Before going to Australia, Waqar Younis and me just saw him in the Gaddafi Stadium and at that time he just looked like a complete bowler. We could see the potential, but now we’ve got the evidence at international level. He has a hat-trick and five-wicket haul. 17-year-old Youthful fast bowler Naseem Shah made his Test debut against Australia in November, when he was 16, and has taken 13 wickets in his first four matches — including a hat-trick in Pakistan’s most recent Test, against Bangladesh in February.
‘If you see his experience and his cricket, then the sample size is too small, but he’s already fulfilling his potential. He is one who could win a Test match on his own, so we’re looking forward for him to emerge as a very good bowler in this series,’ added the head coach.
Misbah sounded candid when asked his teams chances in the series. ‘Things are not easy here in England but we will be aiming to put up a decent show to fetch desired result and we can achieve all set targets when all the team players live up to the expectations and showcase their talent and ability.
He said the Pak cricket squad is a blend of experience and youth with much reliance on fresh blood keeping an eye on rebuilding of team as well as future of Pakistan cricket.—APP