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Don’t give breathing space to Aussies, says Sohail

Former PCB chief selector wants Pakistan to take advantage of under pressure Kangaroos

Don’t give breathing space to Aussies, says Sohail PHOTO: AFP

Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chief Selector Aamer Sohail has stressed on the importance of keeping Australia under pressure in the upcoming two-Test series in UAE.

The Men in Green will face Kangaroos in the first Test starting from October 7 in Dubai.

Sohail, who has represented Pakistan in 47 Tests and 156 ODIs, expressed those views in his blog for PakPassion, and also believes the team should not be complacent in any circumstances.

“What Pakistan must not do, is to provide them that breathing space to raise themselves which they will do if they are allowed to play well,” said Sohail.  “Pakistan need to deny those moments in the series where they [Australia] will start to feel confident as when that happens, they will be very hard to beat. In my opinion, the only thing we need to concentrate on is the fact that the Australia Test side’s morale is very low due to all sorts of reasons.”

Sohail also backed under-fire Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed despite the Asia Cup debacle and feels the wicketkeeper-batsman should not be solely blamed for the team’s poor performances.

“Sarfraz, in particular, has to really work on this aspect of his captaincy and only then can we expect to see better results flow for Pakistan,” he said. “We cannot dump all the blame for the recent failures on Sarfaraz as the onus is also on the head coach and selectors to have the right approach. I am totally against this talk of replacing Sarfraz as this would be unfair and he needs to be given a proper chance.”

The 52-year-old also suggested that Sarfraz must bat lower down the order, at six or seven position, as it is more suited to his style of play.

“He needs to be given help in handling situations when they aren’t going Pakistan’s way and most importantly, he needs to bat at the number six or seven where I feel he is most effective,” he said.

Speaking about Pakistan’s failure in the Asia Cup, Sohail believes improper team selection and combination were the main reasons which led to team’s downfall in the six-nation tournament.

“I would say that Pakistan got their team combination horribly wrong during the Asia Cup,” he said. “It seemed that Pakistan seemed to be betting on the wrong horses for this race and our planning wasn’t based on sound future planning. What really shocked me was that the Pakistan team management seemed incapable of judging the strengths and weaknesses of their own players. They had no clarity on what their players could bring to the table which would benefit the team, and this is why we saw some confused team choices, and the results were there for all to see.”

Sohail also criticised the selection dilemma surrounding all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez for the Test series against Australia.

“If the selectors have thought through their initial decision, then they should be able to convince all their critics about why they selected or not selected a certain player in the squad in the first place,” he said. “What is happening now is that they are bowing to pressure and including players to avoid further criticism, specifically in the case of Hafeez. We were categorically told that he had no place in the Pakistan side but he has been brought back and is now part of the Test squad.”

He added that selection committee must take decisions based on sound reasoning rather than playing to the gallery.

“They need to ensure that whilst a loss here or there maybe undesirable, the team combination will remain the same as it's based on sound reasoning. And if they can convince others that all their decisions are based upon a long-term plan then people will be happy to give them a chance to prove themselves,” he said.