“Whether Shan Masood, Asad Shafiq, Iftikhar Ahmed or Mohammad Rizwan would be inspired or not on fourth day only time would tell. But, they should not let down the fighting spirit shown Yasir and Abbas”

 

Yasir Shah had been reprieved thrice during his maiden Test ton – on 35 (a stumping), 43 (a caught-and-bowled to Marnus Labuschagne) and 106 (again, a simple chance to Labuschagne at short leg). But Yasir did not let those lives, earned through a stroke of luck, go wasted. He thought of exploiting them and bat big when the possibilities of a shambolic first innings total was just a matter of time.

In the history of Test cricket, even the best of batsmen went onto score big hundreds despite being reprieved more than 4 or 5 times. Drop catches are a part of game and what they provide to the batsmen is another opportunity to dream big. Those who exploited them properly became a subject of interest for the statisticians and experts.

At stumps on Day 2, Pakistan left the field with a score of 89 for 6. From there, the visitors ended up scoring 302 all out and it was only possible because of an epic lower-order resistance from Yasir and Mohammad Abbas. Especially Yasir’s batting approach had been so mature that it totally overshadowed the innings of Babar Azam, who had started the fight back.

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First of all, Yasir adjusted his back lift. He played with a low backlift, which helped him to counter the full-deliveries of Australian pacers. This technical adjustment helped him to march on. Then, Yasir blocked those deliveries, which attacked the stumps. Left those, which were moving away from him. Executed strokes when the deliveries were around the hitting zone. Spend time at the crease and the runs would come – a simple funda, which Yasir followed and ended up scoring a hundred.

At one point, when Yasir was batting at 99, it seemed that each and everyone present at the stadium and commentary box desperately wanted him to reach his hundred. You earn such sort of a wish when you display the fighting spirit and Yasir’s fightback against all odds made him the talk of the town on third day. The bloke not only leak runs, but he can score runs as well.

“When we were on our way to the ground in the morning, I had this thought in my mind that I will bat throughout the day. And if I bat throughout the day, I will make a century. That was exactly what I was talking to my friends Naseem Shah and Muhammad Musa about this morning. Then, I went to the nets and batted, and kept thinking about batting throughout the day,” Yasir said after his knock. It only shows how determined he was to prove his worth and when your approaching with a positive mindset, you can expect a better outcome.

The last time a Pakistani scored a Test hundred while batting at number 8 was in 2006 when Kamran Akmal made 113 against India in Karachi. After Irfan Pathan’s hat-trick, Pakistan were reeling and it was at that time Akmal played a counterattacking knock to lift Pakistan up. In the end, Pakistan won the Test and series. Yasir is the ninth Pakistani to achieve this feat.

The pink Kookaburra ball did not swing enough after 30 to 40 overs, but for a tail-ender should it matter enough? Whether it swung or not, for a Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood or Mitchell Starc; polishing off the tail of a fragile unit under the grey sky is like a cakewalk.  And, that’s where Yasir’s temperament and technique, Abbas’ grit and Musa Khan’s courage to an extent earn the accolades.

213 runs were added by the last four Pakistan batsmen in the first innings in Adelaide. This is the second-highest for Pakistan in Australia. The best was in 2016 when the last four added 230 at Brisbane.

Tim Paine enforced the follow on and the response of Pakistan top-order remained the same – disgraceful! Again, they were left clueless against the movement and pace of the Australian pace attack with the new-ball. But as a matter of fact, as Pakistan’s history suggests, each time a typical Pakistani fight back from lower-order had been scripted, most of the times, it inspired the top to deliver better things. Whether Shan Masood, Asad Shafiq, Iftikhar Ahmed or Mohammad Rizwan would be inspired or not on fourth day only time would tell. But, they should not let down the fighting spirit shown Yasir and Abbas.

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