Karachi [Pakistan]:Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur has hinted that either wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan or dashing opener Sharjeel Khan will replace skipper Misbah-ul-Haq in the batting order for the crucial second and final Test against New Zealand beginning on Friday in Hamilton.
Misbah will miss the Hamilton Test after he returned home following the death of his father-in-law, and was later handed a one-match ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for slow over-rate during their comprehensive eight-wicket loss in the opening match in Christchurch.
Vice-captain Azhar Ali will lead the side in Misbah’s absence.
Although Arthur confirmed that Rizwan and Sharjeel are both being considered as replacement options, he added that the final decision will be made only after looking at the pitch.
“We’ve got two options. Mohammad Rizwan can slot into the middle order – he’s travelled around with us for a long time. He’s trained with us. He went through the England series. We sent him back to play some domestic cricket and he responded by getting 167 and a 95. That’s one option. Or we can have a look at Sharjeel Khan. If we use Sharjeel at the top of the order, that makes quite a few changes,” Arthur was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
The former South African cricketer, however, said that Rizwan might be preferred as a replacement because Sharjeel’s induction into the middle-order would result in significant reshuffle in the batting order.
“That becomes an issue because Azhar might have to go back down to three, and Babar Azam – our young gun, who I think is going to play for Pakistan for a long time and do really well – slides down to six, and Asad Shafiq might have to go back up. It’s a lot of disruptions to our batting order. We’ve just got to have a look at the pitch and decide what we think is the best combination,” he added.
While hinting at a probable bowling attack, Arthur said left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz is likely to be retained in the team because the ball is expected to reverse-swing in the pitch.
Describing Wahab as a `phenomenal bowler`, Arthur said that the former has become No. 1 weapon for the team due to his pace and ability to get reverse swing.
“It’s more likely that the ball’s going to reverse-swing here. The pitch was green today, which we don’t really mind, because we do have an attack that can really exploit that. Wahab is an option for us,” Arthur insisted.
“Yes, because Wahab, in Australia – particularly at the Gabba – becomes weapon No. 1, given his pace and ability to get reverse swing. He is a phenomenal bowler, because he provides us both options. We’ve just got to use him when the conditions are right. Then he becomes our trump card,” he added.
After the last Test, both sides will then head to Australia , where New Zealand will play three ODIs while Pakistan will play three Tests as well as a series of limited-over matches.(ANI)