Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 1st day January 8, 2014

Manzoor makes use of lifeline

Question marks will continue to hang over Khurram Manzoor's technique, but the opener fought it out to score 73 on a day when few of his team-mates could put bat on ball

There are few batsmen in the Pakistan side who can safely be called technically sound, and Khurram Manzoor isn't one of them. He might not have the prettiest technique, but it worked well enough for him to score 73 on a day when barely any of his team-mates managed to put bat on ball. On a day dominated by Sri Lanka's seam attack, Pakistan lost their last eight wickets for 58 runs to be bowled out for 165.

Pakistan's top order has been in transition for ages, and they have tried a number of opening combinations over the years. As one of four openers in this squad, Manzoor himself was facing the axe. Since scoring 146 against South Africa in Abu Dhabi more than three months ago, his visits to the crease in Test cricket before this innings had yielded him scores of 4, 0, 0, 21 and 8. It was expected that Shan Masood would replace Manzoor for this Test. But the team management gave him another chance, and they would have been pleased with the manner in which he grabbed it.

For all that, it wasn't a particularly fluent innings, and didn't entirely answer the questions about his technique that have dogged him right since the time he was dropped after his seventh Test - in Hobart in January 2010 - with a record reading 326 runs at 29.63. He returned, after a gap of nearly four years, and has since scored 373 runs at 33.90 in six Tests in which his fortunes have swung dramatically. In the two-Test series against South Africa, for instance, he followed up a match-winning century in the first Test with a pair in the second.

At the Dubai International Stadium today, Manzoor spent 214 similarly fluctuating minutes at the crease. He oscillated between fluent drives and streaky edges through the slips, and looked shaky even after he had crossed 50.

"It wasn't easy out there. The toss was vital because the pitch is helping seam bowlers," Manzoor said. "The ball was seaming exceptionally and it was tough and this is the reason why we all struggled. Also credit should be given to the Sri Lanka bowlers. I took time and was positive and that's why I got runs and that's all I have been thinking, to stay positive."

Having witnessed batsmen come and go at the other end, he seemed set to get to a hundred, having smacked three successive boundaries off Nuwan Pradeep and a six over mid-on off Rangana Herath. An injudicious poke at an away-going ball from Suranga Lakmal, however, ended his innings at 73.

The innings might not have stalled Sri Lanka's charge, but it should help Manzoor retain his place for the next Test in Sharjah. Beyond that, Manzoor will have to show he can kick on from this knock and produce a sustained run of good scores. He won't want this to become just another spike in a wildly fluctuating career graph.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on January 9, 2014, 18:22 GMT

    Khurrum is an outstanding talent all just need to give him confidence and proper guidance.

  • Dummy4 on January 9, 2014, 2:33 GMT

    Ahmed Shehzad has performed consistently in ODI and should be given an extended run in the test side. Khurram Manzoor should be retained for this series and how he performs here should decide whether he is replaced by Shan Masood or not.

  • Mannan on January 9, 2014, 1:46 GMT

    I like your articles Mr Umer but this one is not correct in terms of true analysis of stats of Khurram

    First , i strongly disagree that he does not have a sound technique, offcourse he is not a Muhammad Yousuf, Inzi or Saeed Anwar but he has much better technique than the likes of Shehzad, hafeez, Umer akmal.

    2nd, the last four innings should exclude one runout

    3rd, before he was dropped, he made 71 being the hisghest score in that test match in australia

    Talented players like Manzoor and Shafiq are mostly victimised by fans and critics mostly becoz they are not flashy players.

    So give him a break!

  • EHSAN on January 8, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    He is a very aggressive player and should be made a regular member of the test and ODI teams. He can perform much better than a few players that we always see in both squads.

  • Atif on January 8, 2014, 20:15 GMT

    Where is Taufeeq Umar? The last opener to score a double century for Pakistan. Probably the only opener in almost 20 years.

  • Dummy4 on January 8, 2014, 19:06 GMT

    He should be called back to the odi squad. He is better then ahmed shezad.

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