Pakistan’s comprehensive victory over South Africa in the first of the two-match Test series came after a dismal New Zealand tour and head coach Misbahul Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis would have felt better because of it, however, they do not deserve any credit for the win.
Why? There are multiple reasons that can be put forward to support this claim.
First and foremost, we need to analyse the players who played a key role in Pakistan’s victory.
Number one is southpaw batsman Fawad Alam, who was finally given an extended run in the Test side and he proved that keeping him out for nearly a decade was a criminal mistake committed by previous team managements.
His century in the first innings, when Pakistan really needed a strong showing from a batsman was in no way because of the help received from Misbah. All the credit for his incredible performance should be given to him and him only for his perseverance during his time in the domestic wilderness.
Even if someone deserves a little bit of credit for his return into the Test side and his batting show, it is only Younis Khan, who over the period of years has backed the left-handed batsman.
The other two players who were instrumental in Pakistan’s victory over South Africa were leg-spinner Yasir Shah and left-arm spinner Nauman Ali.
Yasir has been Pakistan’s go-to strike bowler in Tests in Asian conditions and his numbers in the UAE and in the recent Tests played in Pakistan speak for themselves. It is pertinent to mention here that Waqar Younis was a fast-bowler without any expert knowledge of spin bowling. The help Yasir received over the period of years came from former leggie Mushtaq Ahmed and former off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq. Even Australian legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne can be credited for helping Yasir when he surfaced on the world stage, but not Waqar.
Meanwhile, Nauman Ali would be thanking the heavens for receiving his Test debut on Pakistani soil rather than in non-Asian conditions, where spinners face a hard time. His career would have started and stopped with a single Test if he had played his first match on foreign soil. All thanks to new chief selector Muhammad Wasim, Nauman was given his debut cap by Yasir and the left-arm spinner grabbed the opportunity to support Pakistani leggie with both hands.
His seven wickets, two in the first innings and a five-for in the second innings, are a sign that Yasir was missing a partner in the spin department. Case in point, the duo of Yasir and Zulfiqar Babar. The two were a force to reckoned with in the UAE, but like many others, Zulfiqar disappeared from the international scene without any chance of return.
However, Nauman’s inclusion in the Test side and the performance that he pulled off is a perfect opportunity for Pakistan to turn their home grounds into strong and unbreakable spin fortresses.
Lastly, some may say that the gameplan and session by session preparation was all thanks to the head coach Misbah, but one needs to see that Pakistan had Babar Azam as captain.
It may be his first Test as captain but we all know that a captain who has his individual performances sorted out perfectly, will always exude confidence when taking care of field placements and making bowling changes.
All in all, Pakistan may have returned to winning ways after a being humiliated by New Zealand in New Zealand, but that doesn’t make Misbah and Waqar the saviours the Men in Green needed. Instead, the players who performed and the captain who extracted those performances out of them should be at the forefront of receiving all the plause.