Pakistan cricket’s unsung heroes

July 19, 2016 | By

Pakistan’s redemption in the historic Lords epic has received tremendous accolades both locally and abroad. Major part of this transformation in recent years is understandably attributed to the serene leadership of Misbah ul Haq, great batsmanship of Younis Khan and the dynamic bowling unit led by the current world number one bowler Yasir Shah.

Pakistani bowling legends have always made the headlines due to their flamboyance, innovation, and aggression. Whether it be the fast bowlers like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younus, and Shoaib Akhtar or their spinners such as Abdul Qadir, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saeed Ajmal – little doubts ever existed with regards to their talent or application. It’s traditionally the Pakistani batsmen who were widely considered to be the reason behind Pakistan’s modest success in cricket.

Surreptitiously, a street fighter of Miandad’s school of thought has emerged in Pakistani’s ranks, which represents a true story of determination rather than exuberance, perseverance rather than intricacy and application rather than methodology. Indeed Sarfraz Ahmed should be equally considered responsible for Pakistan’s metamorphosis in to a successful test team in recent times.

Sarfraz is a really modest individual who hails from an educated lower middle class family of Karachi; he holds a record that compares favourably with great wicket keepers of the past (Table 1) – not only does he score at a healthy average of 45.33 but at a strike rate nearly comparable to that of Adam Gilchrist, arguably the greatest wicket keeper in cricket history. Whilst it would be pre-mature to draw any profligate comparisons, on the same token it is entirely unfair not to recognise Sarfraz’s immense contribution to Pakistan’s victorious run in test cricket in recent years. His neat glovework is perhaps second to his mentor Rashid Latif, but his batting skills out distance his predecessors and contemporaries by a mile.

Pakistan’s triumph against England indeed required major contributions from Yasir, Misbah and fast bowlers; however, contributions down the order from Sarfraz and his regional team mate Asad Shafiq were exceptional benefaction within the context of a relatively low scoring game (Table 2). In an equally clandestine fashion, Shafiq has already scored eight centuries batting down the order and on scoring another century he would break the record of great West Indian bastman Sir Gary Sobers. This is not an ordinary feast considering that Pakistan’s top order often struggles and in recent times their lower order has contributed all but little to their scoring. Pakistan had conventionally struggled with quality batsmen at number 6, since the time of great Imran Khan but with the likes of Sarfraz and Shafiq, they can afford to play four bowlers with little batting skills. In years to come by, the two old friends are likely to be the companions for many other Pakistani victories on the filed of cricket.

Whilst we commemorate the great Pakistani victory, we must not forget the catalysts of this victory- the two unsung heroes Sarfraz and Shafiq!

Table 1: List of selected Pakistani wicket keepers and their comparison with all time  great Aussie Adam Gilchrist according to the played number of matches

Name Matches Runs HS Average SR 100 50’s
Adam Gilchrist 96 5570 204 47.60 81.95 17 26
Moin Khan 69 2741 137 28.55 51.11 4 15
Kamran Akmal 53 2648 158 30.79 63.10 6 12
Rashid Latif 37 1381 150 28.77 47.42 1 7
Saleem Yousuf 32 1055 91 27.05 n/a 0 5
Sarfraz Ahmed 22 1366 112 45.33 74.44 3 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2: List of players with highest number of centuries batting at number 6 in test matches

Name Matches Runs HS Average 100 50’s
Asad Shafiq 42 2719 137 43.85 8 14
GS Sobers 42 2614 174 53.34 8 11
S Chanderpaul 45 2741 147* 64.82 7 16
AW Greig 45 2741 148 43.50 7 8
HP Tillkaratne 58 2843 204* 47.38 7 11
Asif Iqbal 31 1750 166 43.75 6 6
AR Border 48 2556 153 52.16 6 9
CH Lloyd 40 2114 161* 49.16 6 13
KD Walters 34 1869 250 47.92 6 9

 

 

Khurram Hayat Khan

Khurram Hayat Khan is an author at ScoreLine and has written numerous articles published at ScoreLine.org.

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