Asad Shafiq will be looking to pile some runs after he scored 16 and 17 in the first Test © PA Photos
New Zealand doesn’t quite have Sri Lanka’s reputation in producing result pitches, but you have to go back seven Tests – to February 2014 – to find the most-recent draw in the country. Little surprise then, that a batting approach gaining credence in Sri Lanka (13 Tests without a draw) may come to be here as well: “get runs before the good ball gets you”.
Having mustered only 304 in Christchurch, Pakistan had introspected as they prepared for the Test at Seddon Park. A more adventurous outlook might see them prosper on this pitch, middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq said.
“As batsmen we have to play positive and aggressive on this wicket,” he said. “That was missing in the last match. We have to go for some runs, because on a wicket like this it’s very difficult to stop the ball all the time because this kind of wicket seams and swings a bit. It’s just a matter of time until you get a good delivery. Before that you have to take it on.”
Perhaps Pakistan have sought to take cues from their top-scorer in Christchurch: Sohail Khan, who hit 40 runs off 39 balls. On similarly difficult pitches, strokemakers have also succeeded in upsetting bowlers’ rhythms – something Pakistan could not do despite having collectively spent 78.4 overs at the crease in the second innings of the first Test.
“It’s a lesson that we had learned in the last game – that on these types of wickets we have to spend time, but as soon as we are spending time, we have to score some runs. If we’re not scoring runs, we are standing at the same place – we are not going forward.”
Chief among those Pakistan will look to for leadership in this approach is Younis Khan, who made scores of 2 and 1 in the first Test. He averages 51.11 in New Zealand, however, with three half centuries and a 149 not out in 10 innings in the country.
“Younis is one of the great batsmen Pakistan has ever produced, and he’s gone through a lot of times in his career like this – when he hasn’t scored runs in the first match, but he always bounces back,” Shafiq said. “He has that ability. I’m sure he will score runs in this match.”
Seddon Park will also hold pleasant memories for Shafiq who, in 2011, top-scored in a Pakistan victory at the ground with 83. That had been only his second Test innings.
” I remember that innings well – I played good, positive cricket. It feels really good to be back at the same ground. It really helps a lot as a batsman.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo