Saeed Ajmal is an ideal bowler for Twenty20 and fifty-over cricket, but he has very little exposure when it comes to the Tests: Salahuddin Ahmed.—Photo by Reuters

Wrong team combination picked by the tour selection committee and some pathetic fielding were clearly the two major factors in Pakistan's defeat in the Dunedin Test.

Players such as Khurram Manzoor, Imran Farhat and Fawwad Alam should not have been part of the playing XI while Danish Kaneria — given his tremendous experience in the five-day format — should have been preferred over Saeed Ajmal.

Saeed is an ideal bowler for Twenty20 and fifty-over cricket, but he has very little exposure when it comes to the Tests. I would have certainly gone ahead with Danish in the Dunedin game and there is solid logic behind my argument.

It is a proven fact that all the 'lands' i.e England, Scotland, New Zealand, Ireland, Netherlands are generally suspect against the wrist spinners.

If you look at their first class cricket, too, they hardly have any right-arm leg spinner in their ranks, probably because most of them are European countries where rainy climate can make it difficult for a wrist spinner to control the wet ball.

However, one can find a number of finger spinners playing in these teams.

Besides, Saeed bowled far too flat in the match, making his 'doosra' ineffective. A Saqlain Mushtaq or Muttiah Murlidharan would flight the ball and use the higher trajectory of the delivery when bowlng the 'doosra' to make it as incisive as a flipper or googly, if not more so.

Coach Intikhab Alam's recent comment about Saqlain Mushtaq's guidance not serving the Kiwis well is not entirely accurate since they played Saeed quite well.

That's why I feel that Danish must be included in the next Test to strengthen the Pakistan team.

Some of the other players picked in the final XI at Dunedin like Khurram Manzoor and Fawwad Alam boast an impressive Twenty20 or ODI record but they are certainly not Test material, especially in challenging conditions like New Zealand.

As for Imran Farhat, he too was unimpressive and doesn't seem to have proper technique for Test cricket. Having said that, he may still prove me wrong because he has played some wonderful Test knocks in the past.

I, however, feel particularly sorry for Salman Butt and Faisal Iqbal since both of them merited selection ahead of the names I have just mentioned.

Salman Butt is technically better amongst the three openers selected for the tour, as well as the most experienced. Faisal Iqbal has also performed fairly well, whenever given the opportunity, and has the experience, skill and temperament to deal with the conditions in New Zealand.

Misbah-ul-Haq will have joined the squad by now and that could be a further boost for Pakistan. He should have been there in all three forms in the first place, simply because he is a whole lot better than some others selected for this tour.

Not for the first time, fielding let us down at Dunedin, especially Imran Farhat who floored quite a few dollies to embarrass the visitors. Even skipper Mohammad Yousuf admitted in a post-match interview that fielding was the difference between the two teams.

The only outstanding bit of fielding from our end was the run out by Khurram Manzoor — of Ross Taylor from a very tight angle.

The New Zealand fielders, on the other hand, supported their bowlers with some extraordinary fielding which complimented excellent field placing by their captain Daniel Vettori.

The manner in which Vettori trapped Fawwad Alam with a unique field setting was great to watch.

On a positive note, it was a pleasure yet again to see Umar Akmal perform so remarkably and that too in his debut Test. Both his innings were outstanding stuff and speak volumes about his ability to counter tough situations and sharp bowling.

Brother Kamran, too, should get credit for his sensible batting in the match.  Our quicker bowlers performed well on a pitch that was not as helpful as expected.

It was a joy to see Mohammad Asif pick up right where he left in his last Test almost two years ago. Full credit to his ability, confidence and self belief. I sincerely hope he continues to perform like this throughout the tour. No less impressive was

Mohammad Amir who is improving with every game, literally. If he can include an in swinger from over the wicket in his armoury, like the great Wasim Akram used to, he will be absolutely lethal.

The second Test is scheduled at Wellington where conditions will be difficult for the batsmen and they will have to apply themselves with complete concentration.

The team is badly missing Younis Khan and his experience on this tour. At least Misbah will be available for the second Test and I firmly hope that Pakistan can bounce back if they select the right combination from the available squad as well as improve their fielding.

I also strongly feel that Shahid Afridi should take back his decision of not playing Test cricket. His form with the ball over the previous two years has been impeccable and his batting is also improving.

Furthermore Shahid is one of the fittest cricketers in the country and his Test record as an all rounder speaks for itself. I urge him to make himself available for selection in Test cricket, since the country needs its bravest warrior in these most challenging times.

The PCB should convince him to return to the five-day format and select him for Test matches in Australia.

Shifting focus to some off-field moves, the news of Wasim Bari representing PCB at an ICC meeting in Dubai instead of chairman Ijaz Butt is a cause of great concern.

Bari is a person who has already caused enough embarrassment to the board in the past due to his inability to manage things and it is in the best interest of PCB to nominate a more competent person for the crucial Dubai moot.

The writer is a former Test cricketer and selector



Road to perdition
Updated 01 Feb, 2023

Road to perdition

This is also the time of reckoning for those who sowed the seeds of a disastrous policy against militants.
Transport tragedies
01 Feb, 2023

Transport tragedies

TWO tragedies over the weekend illustrate the weak protocols governing the safety of transport in Pakistan. In fact,...
Disqualifying Jam Awais
01 Feb, 2023

Disqualifying Jam Awais

IT appears that there may be some kind of small punishment after all for PPP lawmaker Jam Awais, who was pardoned ...
Police Lines bombing
Updated 31 Jan, 2023

Police Lines bombing

Where the menace of terrorism is concerned, the government and opposition need to close ranks and put up a united front.
Oil price hike
31 Jan, 2023

Oil price hike

THE record single-day increase in petrol prices, preceded by massive currency depreciation, signifies the ...
Babar Azam’s award
31 Jan, 2023

Babar Azam’s award

BABAR Azam might not have lifted many trophies as Pakistan’s all-format captain in the last year but the star...