ICL: Indian Cricket League

Hafeez all set to open the batting in fourth Test


Pakistan will have to go into the final Test against England at the Oval from Thursday (tomorrow) with yet another “different” opening pair, team coach Bob Woolmer said here on Tuesday.

Woolmer said that Mohammad Hafeez would open the innings in the fourth Test with fit-again Imran Farhat which means the tourists would continue with the pattern of having different openers for each Test in this series.

They had no other option since specialist openers Salman Butt and Taufeeq Umar, who both failed to deliver in the series, were sent back home.

“We wanted to persist with Salman Butt and Imran Farhat in this series but were unable to do it,” said Woolmer whose inability to groom a reliable opening pair during his tenure of over two years as Pakistan coach is seen as one of his biggest failings.

Pakistan have tried Butt-Farhat in the opening Test at Lord’s, Farhat-Kamran Akmal at Old Trafford and Butt-Taufeeq Umar at Leeds. The six opening partnerships in the three Tests have yielded a paltry total of 110 runs for the Pakistanis. The tourists’ opening stands at Lord’s were 28, 0, followed by 4, 21 at Old Trafford and 34, 23 at Leeds — their best yet.

Woolmer is hoping that the arrival of Hafeez would help bring some improvement in the fourth Test at The Oval.

“Hafeez is a good, prolific batsman who has done well on Pakistan A tour of Australia and also in the domestic season back in Pakistan,” said the Englishman. “He has scored 188 against Australia A recently and seems to be in good form.”

Hafeez, 25, was called from Pakistan for the remaining part of his series following his success on the tour of Australia with Pakistan A. He seems all set to make a Test return at The Oval after being ignored for almost three years.

Regarded as a one-day specialist, Hafeez has just played three Tests with his last outing against Bangladesh in the home series of 2003. In fact all the three Tests he has played were in that series in which he also scored a century (102).

The Sargodha-born player, who is also a useful off-spinner, is also set to play in the one-day series against England starting from August 30 at Cardiff.

Woolmer said that Hafeez’s addition in the squad would help Pakistan have a combination of a right-hander and a left-hander opening the batting for the visitors. “It’s always better to have a right-hander and a left-hander opening the batting and with Hafeez in we can have such a combination.”

Pakistan’s three specialist openers in this series — Butt, Farhat and Umar — are all left-handed batsmen. They did try wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, a right-hander, as an opener at Old Trafford but that experiment turned out to be a big failure.

Source:The News

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