Babar rues lack of experience after Pakistan’s first-ever home whitewash
KARACHI: Babar Azam rued the absence of experienced players at his disposal after his Pakistan side became the first to suffer a whitewash in a Test series at home.
Needing just 55 to win on Tuesday — the penultimate day of the third Test — here at the National Stadium, England finished the job in less than an hour to win the series 3-0.
Resuming at 112-2, the visitors took just 38 minutes to reach the modest 167-run target as opener Bun Duckett and captain Ben Stokes finished unbeaten at 82 and 35 respectively.
Pakistan were coming into the Karachi Test on the back of 74 and 27-run defeats in Rawalpindi and Multan respectively in what was England’s first Test tour to the country since 2005.
Already without pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi — who is nursing a knee injury — the Babar-led unit lost fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah, also due to injuries, after the first Test.
They fielded six debutants over the course of the series, including Haris — a T20 mainstay. The hosts also handed debuts to pacers Mohammad Ali and Mohammad Wasim along with spinners Abrar Ahmed and Zahid Mahmood and batter Saud Shakeel.
Apart from Saud and Abrar, who was capped in the second Test, no other debutants were able to make an impact.
“The bowling was not the same as our previous series,” Babar said during the post-match press conference. “Our main fast bowlers Shaheen, Hasan [Ali], Naseem and Haris got injured.
“When you don’t have that backbone and new players come in its not easy for them. The way England play, they don’t let you settle.”
Babar admitted Pakistan’s Test side was in a rebuilding stage and that the group needed time to emerge as a formidable red-ball unit.
“There is a need to build this team because there have been three-four debuts in this series,” said the right-hander. “You need experience in Test matches and our experienced players were unfit or out of form.
“When you give new players a chance it takes time for them to improve.
“This series was full of difficulties; there is a lot of difference between new and experienced players.”
Unlike his English counterpart, Babar’s captaincy throughout the series did not pose much threat to the opposition. The 27-year-old has been under criticism for not being able pressurise the hosts with attacking field placements and smart bowling changes.
Babar, however, shrugged off any possibility of him stepping down as the Pakistan skipper.
“Captaincy is a matter of honour for me. I will do whatever best I can for my country and for myself,” he said.
“I enjoy it more when under pressure and it doesn’t affect my batting.” added Babar, who suffered his sixth defeat in 16 Tests as captain.
WHITEWASH ‘PRETTY SPECIAL’
For England skipper Stokes, becoming the first team to whitewash Pakistan on the hosts’ home turf was an unbelievable achievement.
“It won’t really sink in until we get home or in the new year,” Stokes said after securing what was only England’s second series whitewash in the subcontinent following a similar result in Sri Lanka in 2018.
“I know it’s a cliched thing, but being out in the subcontinent is one of the hardest places to do it,” Stokes said. “I understand, and we understand, what we’ve done is pretty special… to win 3-0 out here, it will be something to be really proud of.”
Pakistan had prepared slow, turning pitches to counter England, who predominantly depend on pace to take wickets.
Stokes’ out-of-the-box thinking, however, helped the visitors thrive in conditions they are not used to and the all-rounder said how his tactics worked was “the best thing”.
He was full of praise for all his team members.
“I think everyone who has played has, at some point throughout the series, put their hand up and contributed to us winning a game,” said Stokes.
PAKISTAN (1st Innings) 304 (Babar Azam 78, Agha Salman 56; Jack Leach 4-140)
ENGLAND (1st Innings) 354 (H. Brook 111, B. Foakes 64; Nauman Ali 4-126, Abrar Ahmed 4-150)
PAKISTAN (2nd Innings) 216 (Babar Azam 54, Saud Shakeel 53; Rehan Ahmed 5-48)
ENGLAND (2nd Innings, overnight 112-2):
Z. Crawley lbw b Abrar 41
B. Duckett not out 82
Rehan Ahmed b Abrar 10
B. Stokes not out 35
EXTRAS (LB-1, NB-1) 2
TOTAL (for two wickets, 28.1 overs) 170
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-87 (Crawley), 2-97 (Ahmed)
DID NOT BAT: O. Pope, J. Root, H. Brook, B. Foakes, O. Robinson, M. Wood, J. Leach
BOWLING: Ahmed 12-0-78-2 (1nb), Nauman 5-0-38-0, Wasim 9.1-1-40-0, Faheem 2-0-13-0
RESULT: England won by eight wickets.
SERIES: England won the three-match series 3-0.
Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2022