That Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has a reputation for being a strict disciplinarian is no secret. Over the years, the likes of Australia’s Shane Watson and even Umar Akmal have learnt that fact the hard way.
Judging by Arthur’s latest comments following Pakistan’s defeat to England in the Headingley Test, a few more players could come under the firing line of the South African.
Pakistan, who had beaten the hosts convincingly in the first Test at Lord’s, slumped to a defeat by an innings and 55 runs in the second Test. That turnaround hasn’t gone down too well with the head coach.
“We need to dish out a couple of hidings but it’s how they grow. The talent we have in that dressing room is phenomenal so we’ve just got to get more consistency and that’s what we’re striving for,” Arthur told Sky Sports after the huge defeat.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed led a relatively inexperienced Pakistan on the tour, with as many as seven players who took the field at Lord’s playing Test cricket in England for the first time in their careers. As such, the Pakistan coach believes that the team will learn from its inconsistencies.
“We’ll have a hard discussion about it, but as long as that dressing room has learnt from it. We’re a young team and hopefully we can grow and grow quicker. Inconsistency is one of the things that comes with a young team, however hard that is for all of us to take at the moment,” he said.
The performance of the bowlers on the tour was more than satisfactory, but the fact that not a single Pakistan batsman notched up a century has stood out sorely for Arthur.
“The key thing that we’re going to discuss is that a number of our batsmen in this series got starts, but we didn’t get a hundred. And for us to grow as a team we need someone in the top six getting hundreds consistently,” Arthur explained.
Rashid, who had a highly successful campaign with the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL, is currently the No1 ranked T20I bowler in the world. Having picked up 21 wickets in this year’s IPL, Rashid is none too perturbed about making the transition to the red ball.
“Being a Test cricketer is not a lot different to playing ODIs and T20s,” the Afghan teenager was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
“I have done well in whatever four-day opportunities that I have got. If I make changes in my bowling thinking about the Test, it will not be good for me. I will bowl with the same speed I have been bowling so far,” he stated.
“I have to make sure that I don’t panic. I know there will be a phase where I won’t pick up a wicket for 20 overs. And I could pick up two in two overs. It is Test cricket,” Rashid added.
The Afghan sensation is currently with the rest of the squad in Dehradun where they are taking on Bangladesh in a three-match T20I series. Such is the life of a professional cricketer that Rashid has not been to his home in Afghanistan in over a year but he remains determined to bring joy to his troubled homeland.
“I have not gone home in a year. I miss my family and friends a lot. It also hurts a lot to hear about blasts back home. Even in the IPL when there was a blast in my hometown, I was really upset. I lost a friend in that,” Rashid said.
“Another one of my friend had called me that day and asked why I was not my usual smiling self in the game.
“So, all these incidents do affect me a lot but I try to keep myself in the best possible frame of mind to give a good performance on the field so that the troubled people back home get something to cheer about.”
The one-off Test between India and Afghanistan gets underway on June 14 at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru.
Virat Kohli’s battle with James Anderson will be one of the biggest highlights when India embark on their tour of England in July this year. The India skipper has struggled previously on English shores, especially against Anderson.
Kohli has been able to muster only 134 runs in his 10 previous Test innings in England at a dismal average of 13.40. According to former Australia pacer Glenn McGrath, the Indian batting stalwart will need to adapt to the conditions quickly in England if he is going to have any success this time round.
“Obviously, Kohli is a more experienced player this time around. There’s no doubt that he’s a quality batsman, but English conditions are pretty tough. When you have got a bowler like James Anderson who knows the conditions so well, it’s going to be a lot of hard work for Kohli,” McGrath was quoted as saying by the Times of India on the sidelines of a coaching stint in Chennai.
“He has got to be prepared to work hard. He can’t just go out and play his game and hit through the line. He has got to be able to adapt. I’m looking forward to that battle,” the Aussie great added.
While that upcoming individual battle has got McGrath excited, the Australian believes the duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah will hold the key to India’s fast-bowling hopes on English pitches.
“I think Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah will hold the key. Both of them have got pretty good control. That’s what you need in England. The duke ball has got a pronounced seam. If you get the ball in the right areas consistently, it will do a little bit throughout and they will do well,” McGrath stated.
The former pacer expressed confidence in the Indian bowling attack shining in England but stressed that it will be the batsmen who will need to step up.
“I actually think all the Indian pacers will have success in England. It’s just a question of the batsmen getting enough runs,” he said.
India are slated to play three ODIs and as many T20Is in their tour of England before signing off with a five-match Test series.