Former Pakistan batsman Rameez Raja has questioned the drastic drop in pace in the bowling of Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah. He said that loss in pace has caused them to lose their penetration, and the duo has lost their potency as a result.
He made this observation while talking about the improvements Pakistan need to show in the second Test against New Zealand, in a video shared on his YouTube channel.
Rameez Raja started by pointing out that Mohammad Abbas has not been up to the mark in the last year or so, and batsmen have found it easy to counter his swing bowling due to his reduced pace.
"Mohammad Abbas' performance has been a little iffy. His pace has gone down. And it is not now; he has been struggling for the last one year. If a medium pacer's pace reduces further, then even if you swing the ball two yards, they know that if they play out his three-four overs with the new ball, they can read his swing early, as the pace has reduced," said Rameez Raja.
The commentator observed that the Pakistan team management need to help Abbas rediscover his former self, as he lacks potency at the moment, even with a slightly older ball. Raja said in this regard:
"So, his efficacy and penetration with the new ball has become less. The Pakistan bowling thinktank has to think how Abbas' pace needs to be increased, and what he is doing wrong because the first spell is fine but the ones after that, he is not the same bowler what he was one to one and a half years back."
Rameez Raja highlighted that Mohammad Abbas' inability to be amongst the wickets has affected Pakistan's bowling plans.
"They need to sit and talk about it because Abbas' failure to take wickets is hitting the Pakistan team hard. He used to create a window of opportunities with the new ball and later on as well. He used to bowl in the right areas and get the ball to move with greater pace, but now the pace has gone down drastically," observed Rameez Raja.
"What has happened to Naseem Shah's pace?" - Rameez Raja
Rameez Raja observed that Naseem Shah has become a medium pacer rather than the express quick he used to be previously, saying in this regard:
"Similarly, what has happened to Naseem Shah's pace? If the pace of a tearaway fast bowler falls down even by a couple of notches, he gets caught very quickly. Because the yorker which was his wicket-taking ball at 148 kph has suddenly become easy to pick at 138 kph."
Rameez Raja signed off by saying that the Pakistan coaches need to immediately address Naseem Shah's issues, whether physical or psychological, so that the team is able to mount a challenge against the Kiwis in the final Test of the series.
"So they need to talk about the problems Naseem Shah is having. Is he not fully fit, or does he have any mental block? Is it required to reset his pitch map in his mind? These things are desperately required to be done before this Test match," concluded Raja.
The fight shown by Pakistan while trying to save the first Test match against New Zealand was commended by many experts. However, the inability of their bowlers to run through the Kiwi batting lineup in the first innings on a green-top raised eyebrows.
Shaheen Afridi was the only Pakistan bowler to cover himself in glory, but Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah failed to create much of an impression.
The Pakistan team management will hope for a much-improved performance from their speedsters if they wish to draw parity in the two-match series.