Gulf News

Kohli: Bowlers should em­brace ex­tra work­load

Marsh axed by Aus­tralia in pref­er­ence for Khawaja

- ABU DHABI BY N.D. PRASHANT Staff Re­porter

Pak­istan blew away a huge op­por­tu­nity to take a com­mand­ing first-in­nings lead against New Zealand in the se­ries-de­cid­ing third Test yes­ter­day. But as the sun went down, the hosts took two quick wick­ets to re­gain a slight edge.

New Zealand, at stumps on day three, were re­duced to 26 for 2 in their sec­ond in­nings, still trail­ing Pak­istan’s first in­nings to­tal by 48 runs with eight wick­ets re­main­ing.

Kiwi skip­per Kane Wil­liamson, whose in­nings will be the key, was on an un­beaten 14 along with night­watch­man Will Somerville on one as Jeet Raval and Tom Latham were sent pack­ing by Sha­heen Afridi and Yasir Shah, re­spec­tively.

Ear­lier Pak­istan, re­ply­ing to New Zealand’s first in­nings to­tal of 274, were bowled out for 348, but only af­ter Azhar Ali smashed 134 and Asad Shafiq scored 104.

“We will be try­ing to get them out as early as pos­si­ble be­cause bat­ting here in the fourth in­nings is al­ways tough,” said Shafiq, who was in­volved in a 201-run fourth-wicket part­ner­ship with Ali be­fore New Zealand clawed their way back with seven wick­ets for 62 runs and re­duc­ing the lead to just 72. We will try to get some break­through early to­mor­row and make sure we have a small tar­get to chase.”

Ali slammed his 15th cen­tury and Shafiq his 12th to end their cen­tury drought as New Zealand chased the leather for one full ses­sion and for lit­tle over an hour with­out any suc­cess.

Ready to fill void

The duo gave in­di­ca­tion that as se­nior play­ers they are now ready to fill the void left by Mis­bah-ul-Haq and You­nis Khan.

They have been get­ting a lot of flak for not shoul­der­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity in the mid­dle or­der. Shafiq, more so, be­cause he has time and again thrown away his wicket af­ter get­ting de­cent starts.

How­ever, in the cru­cial se­ries de­cider in the cap­i­tal, they gave clear ev­i­dence of hav­ing over­come

Fall of wick­ets:

1-0, 2-17, 3-85, 4-286, 5-304, 6-312, 7-333, 8-346, 9-347.

T. Southee 25-5-56-1, T. Boult 26-766-2, C. de Grand­homme 13-2-36-0, A. Pa­tel 35-5-100-2, W. Somerville 36-8-75-4

Bowl­ing: New Zealand 2nd in­nings:

J. Raval lbw b Afridi 0 T. Latham c So­hail b Yasir 10 K. Wil­liamson not out 14 W. Somerville not out 1 (lb1) 1 (for two in 14 overs) 26 Hasan 4-3-2-0, S Afridi 3-0-11-1, Y Shah 4-1-5-1, B Asif 3-0-7-0.

Ex­tras To­tal Bowl­ing:

that in­con­sis­tent phase. The duo showed im­mense pa­tience on a track that was slow and needed plenty of re­straint.

“I was not con­vert­ing my starts into big scores,” said Shafiq. “To­day the team needed a big score and me too. I’m happy that I man­aged to do that. There was a re­spon­si­bil­ity that af­ter You­nis and Mis­bah’s de­par­ture I and Azhar needed to play a role and play a big in­nings. That was al­ways play­ing on my mind to play a big in­nings af­ter get­ting a good start. I didn’t want to throw away my wicket. The fo­cus was to con­trib­ute when­ever pos­si­ble.”

Shafiq and Ali took the team to lunch, 50 runs short of New Zealand’s first-in­nings to­tal of 274. Somerville fi­nally got the break­through with the wicket of Ali — find­ing Pa­tel at short fine leg at­tempt­ing a sweep.

Safiq also fol­lowed shortly af­ter this ton — leg be­fore to a tossed up de­liv­ery from Ajaz Pa­tel and Pak­istan were re­duced to 304 for 5. Pak­istan seem to have a habit of con­vert­ing debu­tants into stars overnight. If Pa­tel had taken the lime­light in the first Test on de­but with his five-wicket haul, then off-spin­ner Somerville hogged the spot­light on his maiden Test with 4 for 75. Pak­istan of­fered very lit­tle re­sis­tance once the Ali-Shafiq stand had ended and the team lost their last seven wick­ets for 62 runs.

Babar Azam dragged a de­liv­ery onto his stumps and skip­per Sar­fraz Ah­mad could do very lit­tle with the tail as Pak­istan lost their last three wick­ets for a mere two runs.

“The wick­ets are a bit slower and a bit more chal­leng­ing here,” said Somerville. “We had to bowl a bit faster on the wicket to chal­lenge them to de­fend a bit more, which is hard on the shoul­der but mix­ing it a bit to get the bats­men off-guard.

Somerville said he hoped his team can play a long game on day four. “We are two down al­ready,” he added. “We hope we can try to score as many runs as we can. The last time we played we de­fended 170 or some­thing. It’s not easy to chase here, so, it was a good toss for us to have won.”

The In­dian bowl­ing at­tack, rated as the most bal­anced in re­cent years, will have its task cut in all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s ab­sence but the ad­di­tional work­load on hard Aus­tralian wick­ets shouldn’t be per­ceived as “bur­den”, said skip­per Vi­rat Kohli.

Pandya is cur­rently re­cu­per­at­ing from a back in­jury and many pun­dits be­lieved that the all-rounder suited Aus­tralian con­di­tions.

The In­dian skip­per agreed that four-man at­tack, led by Ishant Sharma, will have to share those ex­tra overs among them­selves, a cush­ion that all­rounder Pandya would have given. “Los­ing the all-rounder ob­vi­ously has an im­pact,” said Kohli on the eve of the first Test against Aus­tralia in Ade­laide. “I mean every side would like to have a fast-bowl­ing all­rounder, which we don’t have right now with Hardik in­jured. That ob­vi­ously is a great lux­ury to have for any side.

“We don’t, so we have to go with best pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tion. Again, the work­load on guys who will play in the ab­sence of an all-rounder will be high but that is some­thing that has al­ready been dis­cussed.”

Good spell

The hard bouncy tracks and big grounds could test a bowler’s strength and stamina, but the skip­per be­lieves that his bowlers won’t treat it as an ad­ver­sity but a chal­lenge.

“They should look for­ward to that and not think of it as a bur­den or some­thing which is go­ing to be tough,” said Kohli. “Be­cause at the in­ter­na­tional level, things are tough. So, we will just have to em­brace that and make some­thing out of the re­sources that we have at present and try to put in the per­for­mances that the team ex­pects from the play­ers.

“I don’t see Hardik’s ab­sence as a ma­jor is­sue be­cause in Aus­tralia you still have to bowl re­ally well even if you are an all-rounder. To con­tain the bats­men is al­ways a chal­lenge here.”

What Kohli has found heart­en­ing is that none of the mem­bers of the bowl­ing unit are aim­ing at per­sonal glory but are com­mit­ted to the team strat­egy of de­liv­er­ing good ses­sions. “No one is go­ing out ■

there gun­ning for a six-wicket haul for him­self, if it means bowl­ing eight good overs in a spot and get­ting a wicket for the team, they are ready to do that,” he said.

Speak­ing about the op­po­si­tion bowl­ing at­tack, Kohli is look­ing for show­ing pos­i­tive in­tent against Nathan Lyon, con­sid­ered by many as the best off-spin­ner of his time.

In­con­sis­tency

“He un­der­stands the pace of the wicket, the bounce,” said Kohli. “He hits the bat harder and quicker than any other spin­ner that I have faced in Aus­tralia. You have to be at your best against guys like Nathan and their bowl­ing at­tack.

“We just have to back our game and show that we are con­fi­dent of our skill sets and guys have to find ways to play dif­fer­ent bowlers ac­cord­ingly.”

Mean­while, Aus­tralia sprang a sur­prise by ax­ing vice-cap­tain Mitch Marsh yes­ter­day for the first Test, as Us­man Khawaja’s re­turn was con­firmed de­spite the shock of his brother’s ar­rest.

Bats­men Travis Head and Peter Hand­scomb were pre­ferred to the all-rounder, pil­ing more pres­sure on the bowlers in what are fore­cast to be scorch­ing con­di­tions, while Mar­cus Har­ris will make his de­but as opener.

Cap­tain Tim Paine said the omis­sion of Marsh, one of Aus­tralia’s two vice-skip­pers along with Josh Ha­zle­wood, was due to a lack of con­sis­tency and he would ben­e­fit from re­turn­ing to Sh­effield Shield cricket to find form again.

“Mitch has not been as con­sis­tent as he would like and we would like,” said Paine, af­ter the all-rounder en­dured lean tours of South Africa and the UAE, where they played Pak­istan.

“We know the tal­ent that Mitch has and we know that most likely at some stage in this se­ries we will need him.”

 ?? AFP ?? Pak­istan bats­men Azhar Ali (left) and Asad Shafiq dur­ing their 201-run part­ner­ship for the fourth wicket in the third and fi­nal Test against New Zealand at the Shaikh Zayed Sta­dium in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day. Azhar smashed 134 and Shafiq scored 104.
AFP Pak­istan bats­men Azhar Ali (left) and Asad Shafiq dur­ing their 201-run part­ner­ship for the fourth wicket in the third and fi­nal Test against New Zealand at the Shaikh Zayed Sta­dium in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day. Azhar smashed 134 and Shafiq scored 104.
 ?? AFP ?? In­dian cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli (left) and his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part Tim Paine with the Bor­der Gavaskar Tro­phy ahead of the first Test at Ade­laide Oval.
AFP In­dian cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli (left) and his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part Tim Paine with the Bor­der Gavaskar Tro­phy ahead of the first Test at Ade­laide Oval.
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