Skipper Sarfraz demands batsmen to score big after ‘disappointing’ first Test

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DUBAI: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed urged his faltering batsmen to play long innings to help their team bounce back in the second Test against New Zealand starting in Dubai today. Since the retirement of two senior established batsmen Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq last year, Pakistan have been struggling to post big totals, especially in the run chase. In the first test, they made heavy weather of a modest 176-run target, collapsing from 130 for three to 171 all out as New Zealand pulled off a sensational four-run win in Abu Dhabi.

Sarfraz says that Pakistan have left that defeat behind but recognise the shortcomings of their batting. “What mistakes we committed we have left them in Abu Dhabi,” said Sarfraz yesterday.

“If you analyse our last eight Tests or so, our batsmen get out without playing long innings so we have spoken to them about that.”

Since the Younis-Misbah era Pakistan batsmen have scored only three hundreds in eight Tests, one each by Asad Shafiq (versus Sri Lanka in Dubai last year), Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail (against Australia in Dubai last month).

In that period Pakistan’s Azhar Ali and Shafiq, who are now the senior batsmen, have been well below their best. Azhar has managed just 422 runs with no hundreds and Shafiq 590 with one hundred – a far cry from what Pakistan needed.

Sarfraz said Pakistan badly need a win in the second Test. “This is an important Test for us so we should play good cricket and we realise how important it is to bounce back and then go on to win the series,” said Sarfraz.

Pakistan have called up lanky teenage paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi – who took seven wickets against England Lions in the four-day game in Abu Dhabi this week – but his chance of making a debut in Dubai are slim. New Zealand are mulling the option of including a third spinner in uncapped off-spinner Will Somerville.  —Agencies

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