KARACHI: Former Test cricketer and chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu on Tuesday congratulated the Pakistan team for its wonderful victory against England in the first Test at Lord’s and emphasized that Misbah-ul-Haq’s men must keep up the fighting spirit and high performance level in the entire series to do the country proud.

“It was thrilling to see the Pakistan team perform the way they did at Lord’s and outplay England in all departments of the game,” said Sallu while speaking to media here. “The credit for this goes to everyone, but few always stand out in such wins and without taking anything away from anyone, the three I would like to name here are skipper Misbah, Yasir Shah and Asad Shafiq for their brilliant show at Lord’s.”

Sallu credited Misbah and Asad for providing a decent score of 339 to the team in the first innings which really made the diffrence in the end. “Misbah’s magnificent hundred and Asad’s fluent 73 were the key. Of course, thanks to Yasir’s incisive bowling, the first innings lead that we got made all the difference in the end,” observed Sallu.

He strongly recommended that Pakstan should go with the winning combination for the second Test but advised the Pakistan openers Mohammad Hafeez and Shan Masood to work more on their techniques to serve the team better.

“For both the openers especially, I would like to say that they must be aware of where the off stump is in order to handle the bowling better.”

Sallu also warned Pakistan not to get complacent for the Old Trafford game. “England will come back hard by fielding a stronger side which could have their best bowler Jimmy Anderson and spinner Adil Rashid,” he said. “Anderson has this special ability to move the ball in the air as well as off the seam and has a decent pace, qualities which both Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes lack though I really admired the way Woakes bowled in the test. He was simply outstanding with 11 wickets.”

Sallu said he was delighted with the positive approach of the team for which the credit must go to the Pakistan Cricket Board chief Shaharyar Khan and executive committee Najam Sethi who brought effective changes in the team management and selection committee that clicked in a big way. “The induction of Mickey Arthur as coach, Inzamam-ul-Haq as chief selector and elevating Sarfraz Ahmed to T20 skipper are all great moves which have infused a renewed confidence in the team,” he said.

“Also, special mention must be made of the Boot Camp at the Kakul Academy which has proved to be such a fantastic success with the players. A lot of time and money was invested in the camp and it was surely worth it. PCB also was wise in sending the team much ahead of the series which helped the players acclimatize wonderfully in the England conditions,” he said.

In the end Sallu said Yasir Shah, with his vast repertoire of deliveries remains the biggest threat to the England team, and although the hosts are contemplating playing two spinners in Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid at Nottingham, Pakistanis are better players of spin and should do well against the duo.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2016

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