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Sallu expects Pakistan to bounce back at MCG

KARACHI: Former chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu on Sunday backed Pakistan to come good in the second Test against Aust­ralia, starting at the Melbo­urne Cricket Ground on Monday.

While talking to Dawn, Sallu, himself a former Test player, predicted Misbah-ul-Haq’s men will approach the game through a positive frame of mind after putting up a great fightback in the day-night series opener at the Gabba in Brisbane last week.

“Such a performance inevitably leads to better things and if the Pakistan team plays with the valour which they showed in Brisbane, they could turn the tide in their favour,” Sallu emphasised.

“The conditions [at the Gabba] may have become easier to bat on after three days but to make 450 was a herculean effort. The team’s morale has not only sky-rocketed after the great rearguard put up by Asad Shafiq and the tail but lifted the confidence level in the ranks.

“When that happens, it is the opposition which becomes apprehensive and here Australia were definitely on the back foot. One could feel the tension in the field and [skipper] Steve Smith was obviously getting jittery by the minute,” he reminded.

Sallu urged Pakistan to learn quickly from the mistakes they made in the first Test.

“They were lethargic in the field and let Australia off the hook at crucial junctures. In cricket, such mistakes make a huge difference and they did to the home advantage of the home side,’’ Sallu observed.

‘’Therefore, Pakistan should redress their fielding shortcomings in order to restrict Australia to a manageable total from their perspective. The fielders must back the bowlers as athleticism in the field inspires bowlers.”

Sallu further expected that Younis Khan will play a big knock and urged the senior batsman to avoid playing risky strokes.

“A world-class performer like Younis should not repeat the reverse sweep that cost Pakistan heavily in the first. He is a great batsman who brings a huge amount of experience to the team,” he commented. “A big innings from him is overdue now and I’m sure he too must be thinking on the same lines. If we recall he was struggling in England but bounced back in style with a stupendous double century [218] that laid the foundation of a series-levelling win at The Oval.

“He is aware of the fact that Australia is the only country where hasn’t scored a century. But this could be the moment for Younis to draw inspiration in front of a massive turnout at the MCG. The Brisbane match will also inspire not only Younis but the rest of the team.

“The Gabba loss was a sort of victory for Pakistan in defeat because of tremendous comeback led by doughty Asad Shafiq who produced a wonderful innings in tough circumstances.

Moreover, it is a good omen that Azhar Ali, Asad, Younis and Sarfraz Ahmed are in form but it would be great for Pakistan if Misbah, Babar Azam and Sami Aslam also come to the party.”

In the end Sallu expressed confident that Pakistan have the capacity to turn the tables at the MCG. “They were roundly criticised in England after losing the second and third Tests. But The Oval Test proved that Pakistan can never be written off,” he concluded.

courtesy : dawn news

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