No Misbah and Younis as Pakistan look to new Test era against SL
27 Sep 2017 - 0:45
Abu Dhabi: Pakistan will step into a new Test era without retired batting greats Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq when they take on Sri Lanka in the first Test in Abu Dhabi from tomorrow.
Playing without Younis and Misbah is unaccustomed territory for Pakistan, who haven’t had a Test featuring neither of the talismanic, prolific pair in seven years.
It comes as they prepare to welcome the return of full international cricket to their home country next month, when Sri Lanka visit for a Twenty20 game in Lahore.
Together, Younis and Misbah have appeared in 193 Tests, accumulating 15,331 runs, 44 centuries and 15 century stands between them, briefly lifting the team to the top of the Test rankings in August last year.
They have dominated the batting at Pakistan’s venues in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The pair made Pakistan so invincible that they have not lost any of the nine series they have played in UAE, with new captain Sarfraz Ahmed admitting it will be tough to replace them.
“Obviously, it’s not easy to fill the void they left as they were the backbone of our batting,” said Ahmed. “Their contributions were immense but now we have to move on.”
Younis is not only Pakistan’s highest Test runs scorer, with 10,099, but the slips fielding specialist also holds the national record of 139 catches in 118 Tests.
Misbah’s calm influence as a batsman, as well as skipper, will also be tough to replace.
Fast-rising batsman Babar Azam at four and Haris Sohail, who is yet to play a Test, will attempt to fill the void, while Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq will also be expected to play a leading role.
Ali was in doubt for the first Test after suffering a knee injury but he has since responded well to treatment, while Yasir Shah will lead the spin attack in a squad with five fast bowlers.
Shah, who took 24 wickets in Pakistan’s 2-1 series win in Sri Lanka two years ago, will be assisted by uncapped spinners Mohammad Asghar and Bilal Asif.