ABU DHABI // Pakistan’s batsmen, under increasing scrutiny, following a year of underperformance, managed some valuable time in the middle ahead of their Test series against South Africa, which begins next Monday in Abu Dhabi.
Predictably, Younis Khan led the way, an enterprising hundred on the first of a two-day practice match against the UAE guiding Pakistan to 317. As importantly there was good news from Sharjah, where Pakistan “A” were playing South Africa.
Pakistan are desperate to find an opening partner for Khurram Manzoor and both openers in the A side, Ahmed Shehzad and Shan Masood, made solid fifties.
Additionally, Azhar Ali also chipped in with 54 and the under pressure Asad Shafiq was unbeaten on 32.
In Abu Dhabi, Pakistan chose wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal to open with Manzoor, though Younis said that was not an option when the Tests begin.
Akmal made a breezy 71 in any case and instead got some practice against the new ball; batting at No 6 in the Test XI he may well come up against a second new ball.
Some of Pakistan’s batsmen played twice to get even more time in the middle, but that did not help Manzoor who was dismissed both times, for 1 and 26.
“The UAE bowlers really did well, they didn’t give us any easy runs,” Younis said.
“Especially their fast bowlers, in that heat, did really well. The plans they came with they really executed and it turned out to be great practice for us.”
Against a strong South Africa pace attack, much will depend on Younis and the captain Misbah-ul-Haq.
Fortunately for Pakistan both have been in fine form, and though the intensity in this game is a far cry from what will come next week, Younis saw plenty of benefit.
“I try that whenever I do play, I lead from the front,” Younis said. “I am a senior player, I’ve been around 10-12 years. That doesn’t put more pressure on me but in the end it is about self-pride and wanting to do well.
“Sometimes you think this is a side game so it will be easy. But in the end in the big picture, if you perform here and put in the effort here, it means you are serious about your cricket.
“Sometimes you miss out because in a practice game you take it easy, but I wanted to get used to the conditions and ended up doing what I wanted to do.”