Lessons from Lord's
Pakistan's batting fortunes have changed with the Lord's weather. Facing a world record fourth-innings target, Pakistan have begun to restore some credibility if not hope. At the outset Pakistan's coach Waqar Younis argued this tour was a learning experience for him and his charges.
Lots of good has come out of this Test. The overall bowling effort, two new batsmen have debuted, and Salman Butt and Umar Gul have begun to reassert themselves in Test cricket. But lessons are usually focused on areas for improvement and here are some lessons Waqar might want to consider:
1. Play your best batsman at No.3. Umar Akmal has continued a peculiarly Pakistani tradition of the best batsman in the team shying away from the top spot in the batting order. Senior status comes with a cushion that helps you warm the bench while more junior colleagues suffer. The most alarming statistic of this contest is that it is the first time since Pakistan's inaugural match that the batsmen at Nos 3 and 4 have been making a debut. Umar should have grasped the mantle in the manner that he charges out to the crease.
2. Find a better opening partner for Salman Butt. For some inexplicable reason Imran Farhat has become Pakistan's Test opener of choice. The justification for his continued selection is minimal. Farhat has always looked like a batsman who might succeed in Pakistan but will require a healthy dose of luck outside, as he received in New Zealand. Why bring Yasir Hameed on tour and not play him? Even the malign, and the maligned, Shoaib Malik might be a better use of available resources.
3, Find a balance between defence and attack. In Pakistan's first innings they understandably began in super cautious mode. But what they ended up doing was simply hanging around until they got out. When Shahid Afridi entered the arena he was in blitz mode, and began an exhilarating but brief assault. There is a balance that needs to be struck and Waqar must help find it because his captain has only one mode.
4, Keep up the pressure in the field. On two occasions in this match Pakistan helped Australia into a strong position. The first innings partnership between Simon Katich and Michael Clarke was followed by the even more unsatisfactory attempt to dislodge Tim Paine and Ben Hilfenhaus. On both occasions Pakistan lacked focus, energy, and a plan B. They allowed the game to drift, easy singles easy runs. Those partnerships will make the difference between victory and defeat.
5. Is it possible to play Afridi and four bowlers? The tail becomes too long. Should Afridi always be the fourth bowler?
Meanwhile, Pakistan fans will hope and pray for a miracle on Friday. A lesser but still valuable reward would be a century or two to help the batsmen gather some confidence and momentum.
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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here