KARACHI: Australia’s last test series, the 2016-2017 season, saw the expertise of middle-order batsmen Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, but batsmen Asad Shafiq and Shan Masood are now in charge of scoring.
Since Younis retiring for a long time and Misbah now the head coach, the blame of scoring will have to be divided and the pair will be willing to take up this opportunity.
Speaking to reporters at the National Stadium on Sunday, Asad said that there is added responsibility on his shoulders after the retirement of stalwarts Younis and Misbah. “My responsibilities have increased after their retirement,” Asad said. “But I don’t see it as a burden.
“I have realised that it is [now more] important for me to stay at the crease and score as many runs as possible,” the 33-year-old batsman added. He recalled that when Misbah and Younis were still playing, the rest of the team members felt that they had a security blanket, knowing that the experienced duo could handle tough situations.
Asad said that he has set himself a target of becoming top-scorer for Pakistan in the Australia tour, adding that they will try their best to win the first-ever Test series Down Under. “We haven’t won any Test series in Australia so far so we’ll go there with an aim to change that,” he said.
“Our batting did well the last time but bowling couldn’t perform according to expectations. But we have learned from our mistakes and I hope that we will produce better results this time,” he said.
Asad, however, is well aware of the challenges they could face in Australia. “It will be a tough task as wickets in Australia will be different from what we have been playing on regularly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shan said that he is geared up for the challenge. “I will try and perform my responsibilities, especially turning 50s into centuries,” he said. “Whatever I learned on the tour of South Africa [last year], I will try and implement that,” he added.
The opener said that the silver lining of the difficult tour of Australia is that it offers young players the opportunity to become big players. “All big players at one point had taken the field as youngsters,” Shan said. “No one is a great cricketer from the get-go. Everyone comes into the team, performs and then becomes big.
“The youngsters who perform today will be known as big players in future,” he said. Like Babar Azam had a few days earlier, Masood also paid a tribute to Sarfraz Ahmed, who was sacked as captain in the aftermath of the disastrous Sri Lanka home series.
“I always found Sarfraz as a leader, and personally I will feel his absence in Australia, and miss everything from his scolds to his jokes and his brotherly behaviour off the field,” Shan said. However, he added that changes are a part of life and “now that the team is under Azhar Ali’s leadership, we hope that it will reach new heights.” —with inputs from agencies