Former Pakistan cricketer and current spin bowling coach for the England tour Mushtaq Ahmed backed his bowlers and termed the Southampton pitch for the third and final Test against England a ‘flat’ one.
The hosts ended the day’s play at 332/4 riding on an unbroken 205-run stand for the fifth wicket between Zak Crawley and Jos Buttler.
The 22-year-old Crawley had spoken in the second test of targeting a maiden five-day hundred, but a lack of concentration saw him dismissed for 53 in England’s only innings when the milestone had looked on as the game meandered to a draw.
There were no such lapses from the Kent batsman on Friday as he made his way to his maiden Test century. He was unbeaten on 171 at stumps on Day 1.
Reacting on the first day’s play Mushtaq said it was difficult for the bowlers to control their line and lengths.
“It was quite tough. The weather played a huge role. The pitch was very flat, and the toss was vital on that pitch. And because the wind was there the whole day, it was very difficult for the bowlers to control their line and length consistently. It was tough especially for young bowlers like Naseem [Shah] and Shaheen [Shah Afridi]. They are new to Test cricket but they made a huge effort and they can be proud of it,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Ahmed as saying.
“I think we are working on how to deal with being under pressure. When the opposition attacks your young bowlers, it naturally is difficult for them to handle it. But obviously, the credit goes to Crawley and Buttler. They played very well, and this is a flat first-day pitch. The wind made it even tougher, and that’s not an excuse, but it’s also reality,” he added.
Ahmed feels that Pakistan need to bowl out England in the first session on day two under 400.
“We need to try and bowl them out in the first session under 400. That leaves us with over three-and-a-half days and an opportunity to put up a big total ourselves,” he said.
(WIth agency inputs)