KARACHI: Pakistan batting coach and former great Younis Khan singled out fast-rising paceman Jofra Archer as a ‘major threat’ in his team’s forthcoming matches against England.
The Pakistan squad left from Lahore on Sunday for England, where they will play three Tests and as many Twenty20 Internationals, starting in the first week of August.
Younis said 25-year-old Archer has made a reputation for himself since qualifying to play for England and going on to play a key role in last year’s Ashes and triumphant World Cup campaign.
“He [Archer] is a real match winner and a threat,” Younis said before the team’s departure from Allama Iqbal International Airport.
“Archer has strong nerves which he proved while bowling a crucial super over in the World Cup final,” said Younis of England’s nail-biting win over New Zealand at Lord’s last year. “He has bite in his bowling and his high arm action is very good and gives him nip in his bowling.”
But Younis — who himself played a key role in Pakistan’s 2-2 series draw in England in 2016 with a brilliant double hundred in the last Test at The Oval — said Barbados-born Archer can be countered.
“There is hype around him so that can be an added pressure on him. I have told the batsmen to play close to the body and play on the back foot because his in-swinger can be very dangerous.” Younis, who remembered playing Archer in Pakistan’s practice game against Sussex in 2016.
“I remember playing him in the side game,” said Younis of Archer’s debut first-class match. “He got five wickets in the match but was not on top of his bowling at the time like he is now.”
Pakistan’s highest Test run scorer with 10,099, Younis said Pakistan should also be cautious of England’s most experienced bowlers — James Anderson and Stuart Broad. “Anderson and Broad have a wealth of experience. They are always a great pair. Whenever England have won they have the major share, but in August the weather will be dry and not very overcast so they can be handled properly.
“Pakistan need to score 300-350 in the first innings, in order to challenge England in bowling,” the batting coach said.
The squad has a new pace battery with lanky Shaheen Shah Afridi as spearhead supported by 17-year-old Naseem Shah and seamer Mohammad Abbas, who also played a key role on 2018 tour.
“You face challenges in England as your technique as well as nerves are put to test. I am sure our team will be up to that task,” said Younis.
The squad left without 10 players who had tested positive for novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
Test skipper Azhar Ali said the tourists were looking forward to playing in what will be some of the first Test matches since the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a global lockdown.
“All the players are excited after a tough period,” said Azhar on the eve of departure. “Though a tour to England has always been challenging, our performances there on the last two tours [in 2016 and 2018] are encouraging and we will try to repeat those.”
Pakistan also drew a two-match series 1-1 two years in 2018.
A chartered plane carried 20 squad members including two reserves, who were seen wearing masks and observing social distancing at Lahore airport in pictures released by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
The squad will face a two-week isolation period on arrival before continuing their preparations ahead of the first Test with two four-day warm-up matches.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2020