TO tackle an awkward situation it is important not to panic, keep cool and then discipline yourself to rescue and repair the damage done. Whether it is sport or a crisis in a day-to-day life the same formula applies. It is more so in cricket for the fact of its unpredictable nature.
On the first day of the second and final Test here against Australia, the clarion call for the rescue act was more than alarming when Pakistan having taken the choice to bat crashed in a humiliating manner to lose five wickets before lunch and four of them to off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
Four wickets in six balls were not what Sarfraz Ahmed had asked for when making the call to bat first.
Lyon, no doubt, bowled a tantalising length but he was not as menacing as he was made to look by our batsman.
Dismissal of Mohammad Hafeez by Mitchell Starc had set the pattern for Lyon to work on as Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam all perished in quick successions to make Pakistan innings appear so ordinary before debutant Fakhar Zaman and his captain Sarfraz came together to lift the innings back to sanity.
Their resilience in the face of adversity paid off rich dividends as Pakistan finally ended with a reasonably respectable total.
This, I must say, is what Test cricket is all about, to rise from the fall and then reap the rewards for their sustained rearguard in the shape of two Mohammad Abbas strikes to finish day with Pakistan with an edge.
Credit for this position ought to be given to Fakhar, mostly for the fact that having disciplined himself against his natural instinct of attacking cricket he took up the challenge and charge of the Pakistan innings like a seasoned campaigner to tackle both pace and spin with aplomb.
Having cut all his aggression that he is reputed for, Fakhar concentrated hard to pick the right deliveries to score runs.
Seldom did he falter as he picked runs in front of the wicket or round his legs leaving aside those trademark flashing drives, cuts and swats on the onside.
Fakhar was a picture of patience and concentration in the given situation and his confidence forced the out-of-form Pakistan captain to get in the same mode. Inevitability, the partnership flourished at a healthy rate while lifting Pakistan from the doldrums of 57-5 as Fakhar and Sarfraz added 147 priceless runs.
A debut century for was there for the taking but Fakhar fell six short of the coveted landmark. It was a knock which was as worthy as the gold in value.
It was a tragedy to see Fakhar fall and he must have like all of us felt for him. Sarfraz also was out for a similar score when a hundred was within his strike. But for this he has got to blame himself in having lost his cool by offering a simple catch in the deep.
Out-of-form and out-of-sorts after a spate of recent failures with the bat, Sarfraz must have heaved a sigh of relief since his crucial contribution with bat yesterday not just put his side in a state of some calmness but critically it silenced his critics for the time being.
Twelve wickets in a day’s play do indicate a result on a pitch which is not only helping the batsmen but also the bowlers.
In the end as the game progresses we would most likely to see a winner and that would be one team which would hold composure with a disciplined approach.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2018