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Pakistan's revolving door to Test cricket

Pakistan have failed to find a settled XI in Test cricket. ESPNcricinfo profiles those players handed a debut in 2013

Umar Farooq

December 31, 2013

Comments: 8 | Text size: A | A

Nasir Jamshed drives through cover, West Indies v Pakistan, 3rd ODI, St Lucia, July 19, 2013
Nasir Jamshed's one-day runs earned him a Test spot but he failed to deliver © WICB
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Pakistan over the last five years have handed debuts to 28 players - second to only Australia (with 32) in world cricket - with Bilawal Bhatti and Ahmed Shahzad becoming the latest men to be given Test caps. In an apparent rebuilding process, Pakistan fielded eight new comers this year in as many as eight Test matches. Similarly, Pakistan tried eight debutant in 2009 and 2010 while four men were tested between 2011 and 2012.

The transition is still ongoing and as selection over the year has been inconsistent, so have been results. Only Misbah-ul-Haq, Saeed Ajmal, Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq have been automatic selections throughout the year; Azhar Ali could have been the fifth, had he not been dropped from the ongoing Test against Sri Lanka

Nasir Jamshed, cap no. 210
Debut v South Africa, Johannesburg
Performance on debut: 2, 46

Talented but unable to convert his limited-overs form to Test cricket. He was rewarded for his one-day run feast against India and handed a Test cap. For a while he was considered a long-term prospect amid the hunt for an opener but he was dropped after two Test matches in which he had managed to score 51 in four innings. He never stood tall afterwards and even his position in the limited-overs squad dried up and he needed a weight of runs to return.

Replaced by: Imran Farhat - who was himself subsequently dropped.

Rahat Ali, 211
Debut v South Africa, Johnanesburg
Performance on debut: 14-0-56-0, 11-1-44-0

Rahat Ali was picked on the tour to South Africa to reinforce Pakistan's bowling line up and was handed a Test cap immediately for the first Test. But he was immediately dropped after he conceded 100 runs in his wicketless first Test. Brought back for the final Test, he took six wickets but couldn't prevent Pakistan's defeat. He was retained for the Zimbabwe series this year in the absence of Mohammad Irfan - who returned to retake his place for the South Africa series in the UAE. Irfan's hip injury once again made a way for Rahat, who is playing his fifth Test, against Sri Lanka, with a future hanging in balance.

Replaced by: Mohammad Irfan

Mohammad Irfan, 212
Debut v South Africa, Cape Town
Performance on debut: 21-1-86-3, 10-1-35-0

A giant seven-foot-one surprise package of 2013 but his brittle body kept him at bay all year long. He has improved immensely since his ODI debut back in 2010 and his journey has started to build but a hip injury once again halted his run. He is 31 but his career's momentum is prerequisite to a well-managed workload.

Replaced by: Rahat Ali, occasionally.

Ehsan Adil, 213
Debut v South Africa, Centurion Performance on debut: 12.2-1-54-2

He might have dismissed South Africa captain Graeme Smith with only his third ball in his first Test appearance but it didn't last as he bowled 12.1 overs, conceded 54 and took one more wicket. Pakistan lost the Test by an innings and 18 runs to complete a 3-0 whitewash. Adil hasn't been picked again but he went on to play four ODIs until May 2013. With strong competition in the bowling line up, his future looks bleak.

Replaced by: Junaid Khan.


Zulfiqar Babar successfully appeals for the wicket of Alviro Petersen, Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd Test, 1st day, Dubai, October 23, 2013
Zulfiqur Babar made an immediate impact before being sidelined © AFP
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Shan Masood, 214
Debut v South Africa, Abu Dhabi Performance on debut: 75, 0

With a productive domestic season in 2012-13, Shan was another opener tried in the home series against South Africa. He was called up to replace Mohammad Hafeez - who was axed after the Zimbabwe series. Shan justified his selection when he put on a 135-run opening stand with Khurram Manzoor to break Pakistan's top order drought. But he could not capitalise and made 21 and two ducks in his next three innings. He was been dropped after being tested in only two Test matches. Replaced by: Ahmed Shahzad

Zulfiqar Babar, 215
Debut v South Africa, Abu Dhabi Performance on debut: 27-2-89-3, 19-6-51-2

A lately-recognised left-arm spinner; Zulfiqar debuted at the age of 34. A much-deserving prospect, he had to wait for nearly 14 years to find a place in the national side but has been pushed back after been utilised in only two Test matches. He suffered hand injury during his only second Test and despite recovering once again, he has been pushed back and faced an uncertain future with another left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman ahead of him

Replaced by: Abdur Rehman

Bilawal Bhatti, 216
Debut v Sri Lanka, Abu Dhabi
Performance on debut: 15-1-65-3 (on day one)

Thanks to Umar Gul's lack of Test-match fitness, Bilawal Bhatti was promoted to a surprising Test match debut. He was preferred ahead of another paceman Mohammad Talha - another prospect who has been a forgotten man for last three years. Bhatti's introduction to international cricket has been an impactful one with a match-winning contribution (39 off 25 and three wicket apiece) at Cape Town against South Africa. It's premature to suggest Bhatti being a long-term prospect in Test squad but he potentially can fill in an all-rounder spot.

Ahmed Shehzad, 217
Debut v Sri Lanka, Abu Dhabi
Performance on debut: 25* (on day one)

Another potential opener earned a Test spot after a run form over the year. He combined 809 ODI runs in 21 matches at 38.52 including two hundreds and five half-centuries. He was selected for the South Africa Test series in the UAE but didn't make into the XI. He was selected ahead of Masood for the first Test.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here

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Posted by   on (January 1, 2014, 19:04 GMT)

babar should play he is better than rehman

Posted by   on (January 1, 2014, 19:03 GMT)

man babar is way better than rehman. idk why they do this to him

Posted by Naeem578 on (January 1, 2014, 13:30 GMT)

This is not good mr.Farooq. I'm following cricinfo for quite a long time now n I observed that U n mr.Usman always write negatively about Pak cricket. When doing such analysis U should keep in mind that these Pakistani Players don't have the luxury to start their careers in their homeland like other cricketing nations but still they are competing well. But U guys see only one side of the picture.Everyone in Pakistan knows that our "on field" cricket is heading in the right direction n we r getting good young batting talent also e.g Sohaib n Sharjeel etc. It's just the matter of time n giving them more exposure. U wrote about Zulfiqar Babar being sidelined, well its not true, actually Pak has so much exceptional Spinning options that he is not able to find a place in the team n I'm absolutely sure that Babar will be our surprise pakg in the upcoming T20 W.C on Bangladesh Surfaces. The Team which is playing cricket outside its homeland from many years DESERVES a little appreciation.

Posted by ketaann on (January 1, 2014, 9:49 GMT)

pakistan can not progress until they stopped giving cap to any player. What is the need to give them chances when guys like malik,razzaq,sami still there. Just play with most experienced side n see the results. Hardly there is any series when no pakistani makes debut.

Posted by khanofcricket on (December 31, 2013, 18:54 GMT)

Nasir has poor technique and bad foot work which was exposed in SA. He has to go back and work on it. Unless that improves he should not be given a chance. Azhar Ali is more suited to Tests and Pakistan's performance in tests in last two years improved partially because of him. He needs to be given more chances. The team right now looks balanced. It is good to see good talent sitting on the sideline - so, you can replace openers, fast bowlers, spinners and the middle order batsmen any time you like. It is a great luxury to have but has to be managed properly to get the best out of them. Umer Gul and Irfan need to be managed properly - don't play them in every game. They should be played in the openers to create an impact right away and then rested in the second one and then bring them back in the decider.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2013, 18:13 GMT)

i am really feeling bad 4 azhar ali and shan masood especially 4 azhar ali, hafeez in place of azhar? azhar ali is far better and suited player to test cricket than hafeez. hafeez does not have "compact" technique required 4 test cricket. he do not know where his off-stump is,thats why he is getting out again and again by styen(by edging his balls),which was also shown in india series when he leaved the ball of bhuvasnar kumar couple of time and got bowled. hafeez selection in test on the basis of his performance against srilanka in odi? lanka now do not have any threatning fast bowler in their ranks so its easy to score against them compare to any team which has good fast bowling attack. he may perform well in test against srilankan attack but will exposed "again" badly by australian pacers when pakistan will play tests against Ozs at the end of 2014 hafeez till date had not played any match winning/saving inning in test but azhar did.18/19 time when azhar score 50+ pak didnt lose.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2013, 17:41 GMT)

Irfan should be managed carefully. He should not play all the games. Bhatti has impressed today. Has good domestic record for 1st class. However, his bowling in recent Odi series has been not up to mark. Rahat has a mixed career so far. not too impressive. Shaan has played only 2 matches as well as Adil. Nasir is good future player for pakistan but since india series, his performance declined and i think at the moment he should focus on limited overs. Ahmed has just started so cant say much. Azhar Ali has a poor year. But had a lot of potential so hopefully he can return some time soon.

Posted by mensan on (December 31, 2013, 17:10 GMT)

Zulfiqar Babar can play at UAE. Bhatti is not test class. Exsan Adil should be groomed.

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