DESPERATE and on the lookout for a genuine all-rounder, Pakistan may in fact have discovered two in Shadab Khan and debutant Fahim Ashraf who sensibly controlled a rocking ship of innings with their controlled seventh-wicket partnership of 115 to allow Pakistan take a firm grip of this historic Test.
Both Shadab and Fahim surpassed the half-century mark while displaying the qualities that makes one an all-rounder. In testing circumstances when the ball moved and the freezing chill made people shake and shiver, these two put their head down, showed sound temperament and matured skill to cope with an Ireland attack which earlier during Saturday’s play had threatened to embarrass Pakistan.
Once in a mood to occupy the crease both these youngsters found gaps with handsome drive, cut and pull strokes. Their resilience and youthful determination to repair the damage no doubt gladdened the hearts of the Pakistan team and their supporters.
That they stayed together to continue yesterday as well was in no way an ordinary effort from them considering they had but only scant experience of playing the game at this level.
Imran Khan of old, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee and Ian Botham had developed into valuable cricketers whether batting or bowling because of the fact that they worked harder than others both at their bowling and batting during that golden era in the 1980s.
Having watched Shadab and Fahim bat like that leaves me in no doubt they have the potential, talent and to go with the skills required to supplement the temperament if they worked as hard on their game as those stalwarts before them did to make a name for themselves.
Those who are given the opportunity to look after them need to hammer into their system to rise above others to work even harder with bat and ball to become the mainstay of the future.
Zaheer Abbas, the former great of Pakistan batting who with his 108 first-class centuries still remains the only Asian to score a century of centuries at that level called me from London yesterday and told me that to be amongst the greats as a batsman one needs to learn to stay at the wicket and try and convert the 40s into 50s and 70s into 100s and to make sure when you reach in that area then not allow any bowler to dislodge you.
Having watched the great batsman’s entire career I can understand what he meant. Once in his grooves he was not an easy batsman to get rid of.
Shadab and Fahim by their great determination did show that kind of attitude which augurs well for Pakistan.
When bowling these two showed as much quality to pick up wickets. Forget that they are playing against a debutant team like their hosts who unlike their bowling were in no control during their stay at the crease as they came up against some quality Pakistan bowling with both Mohammad Abbas and Mohammad Amir getting help off the seam and in the air.
In fact, Ireland were in grave danger of being all out for less than 84 in their first-ever Test innings, a total which South Africa made in their inaugural fixture at Port Elizabeth against England in 1889.
That they averted that humiliation was mainly through a defiant knock by Kevin O’Brien who scored 40.
Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2018