Fakhar’s first day in Test cricket has been fruitful……..
Balls faced: 198
Strike rate: 47.47
The above numbers are not about a batsman from the old ages, who used to play Test cricket in an attritional manner, but it is all about a modern day dynamic batsman – Fakhar Zaman, who just smashed a double ton or Pakistan in the 50-over format and hogged the limelight with his swashbuckling batting. Of course, modern day batsmanship demands flashy strokes and a strike rate above 80 even in five-day matches. But still today, one cannot deny the importance of an attritional batting display of old days under tough circumstances and their value in building a partnership.
Fakhar hails from Mardan, a place which has become famous for one of the best ever Test batsmen from Pakistan – Younis Khan. While Younis Khan gave Mardan an identity in Pakistan’s cricketing sphere, Fakhar gave Mardan the dose of dynamism with his freewheeling batting exhibition a year ago in the Champions Trophy. He burst into the scene from nowhere and became a ray of hope for Pakistan’s limited-overs’ side, who lacked someone like Fakhar in the opening slot to utilize the power-play.
Fakhar is all about hitting the ball all around the park with a rare disdain. Expecting a bit of resolve from him is useless, but mind you, he can switch gears and drive the car patiently on the rough roads. At Abu Dhabi, on his Test debut, he showed, he can bat with a lot of composure – a much needed criteria in the longer-formats.
Pakistan lost Imam-ul-Haq for the second Test and thus roped in Fakhar. Even though, the Pakistan captain, Sarfraz Ahmed demanded an aggressive flair from Fakhar today, but to the astonishment of his skipper and others, Fakhar played the role of a sheet-anchor.
Fakhar witnessed the collapse of Pakistan top-order from one end and at 57 for 5, Australia seemed to have established their command – a paltry first innings total was on the cards and Fakhar decided to curb his attacking intents and concentrated more on spending time at the crease.
He decided to use the angle of right-arm bowlers of Australia, whose deliveries were pitching outside off to Fakhar rather than coming in – a bulk of his runs came through the point and cover region. All know, he is very good on the onside and on his pads, but this time around, he did not depend playing according to his strength, but utilized the angle of the bowlers and gaps in the field smartly.
His scoring rate dropped down, but it hardly mattered as was providing the perfect foil to Sarfraz’s aggressive stroke-play at the other end. In test cricket, there is no need for two guns to blaze at the same time during a repair work. Uncharacteristically, it was Fakhar, who batted silently and played an important role in rescuing Pakistan from a disaster.
He fell six runs short of a memorable Test ton, but those runs were as valuable as gold. Fakhar’s first day in Test cricket has been fruitful and Pakistan would need more of such composure from him in the upcoming days.