Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has questioned the team management's clarity of thought while selecting plenty of fast bowlers in the nation's 20-member squad for the three-match Test series against England.
Shoaib Akhtar and Rashid Latif shared their views on the possible composition of the Pakistan team for the first Test against England in a show on Geo Cricket.
On being asked about Pakistan's likely lineup for the first Test, Shoaib Akhtar responded that he has no clue and even questioned the selection of a plethora of fast bowlers in Pakistan's pruned 20-member squad for the series.
"That we don't know. They have announced a 20-member squad. In that twenty, there are around 22 fast bowlers. Let us see whom they select. Depends on the captain and the management, with which mindset they go in."
"What they want and how the pitch is? How the management sees the whole scenario. Zero idea what they are going to do. When the team list comes, you will come to know the exact mindset they are going in with. So far as we know right now, nothing."
The Rawalpindi Express added that he was unsure of the mindset with which Pakistan are approaching the series. He said that he doesn't know whether they will look to be aggressive or follow a defensive approach.
"I don't know if they are going with the mindset of going for a draw or to win. The captain or coach has to decide which fast bowler or spinner they want to go in with."
Shoaib Akhtar observed that he had not seen the aggressive streak in Azhar Ali's captaincy and wanted to wait till the final lineup is announced to understand the Pakistan team's mindset.
"I don't know which mindset they will go in with because I have not seen the aggression in Azhar Ali's captaincy. Once I see the bowlers in the team list, I will come to know if they are planning to win."
Shoaib Akhtar on Pakistan's possible bowling lineup
Regarding the possible bowling attack, Shoaib Akhtar picked Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi as certainties but was unsure of the other pace bowling selections.
"Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi are set. The question is about the other two bowlers. It will be difficult for the management to decide on whom to play because there will be criticism."
While acknowledging that Sohail Khan had performed quite well in the practice games, Shoaib Akhtar was unsure if he could be picked ahead of the seasoned Mohammad Abbas.
"Sohail Khan has performed in the practice matches but is it suitable to drop Abbas in such conditions. They have to take a very tough decision. I feel that they will have to make a strange selection."
Shoaib Akhtar opined that the team management would have a tough task of picking the playing XI, as a wrong selection could lead to a lot of criticism.
"If you lose the Test match because of a wrong selection, then there will be strong criticism. If 40 players have gone and from there also you don't get a proper Test squad, then what can you do. I feel sorry for the management but they should pick their best XI."
Shoaib Akhtar also wanted the Pakistan team to go hard at England right from the outset and put pressure on the opposition.
"The mindset should be to go after England. If I was the captain, I would have gone after them in the first session. They should panic and save themselves, rather than we suffering and saving ourselves with a defensive mindset."
Shoaib Akhtar agreed with Rashid Latif that Yasir Shah should be the preferred spin bowling option, while adding that England are likely to prepare a seamer-friendly track to neutralise the effectiveness of the Pakistan leg-spinner.
"West Indies did not have a good quality spinner like Yasir. If England makes a Test match wicket, then runs will be scored and Pakistan spinners will come into the game. I don't know which second spinner will play in that case."
"But I feel England will not make the mistake to bring Yasir Shah into the game. I don't think they will make pitches like that. I am sure that they will make pitches where the ball will seam a lot. I don't think England will be that stupid to make flat pitches."
Pakistan have picked eight seam bowlers - Faheem Ashraf, Imran Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari and Wahab Riaz - in their 20-member squad for the Test series against England.
Published 29 Jul 2020, 13:45 IST