Pakistan may have suffered the ignominy of losing 5-0 at home to Australia, but batting coach Grant Flower has drawn several positives from a series that saw the hosts’ batsmen score five centuries.
Flower singled out the three centurions — Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan and Abid Ali — for their knocks and hinted that the former two may be on the plane to England for the upcoming World Cup.
“Rizwan’s been playing well, but he looked more in charge of his own mind this time. Less frenetic and paced his innings better,” said Flower, while speaking to ESPNcricinfo.
The two issues with Rizwan’s selection though are his tag as a ‘wicketkeeper batsman’ that makes him skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed’s understudy as well as his inability to clear the boundary. Flower, however, believes neither should prove to be a hindrance.
“He’s good enough to bat in the top four, but I also think he’s versatile enough to play lower down,” Flower insists. “He doesn’t have the power-hitting, but he can still find the boundaries and the odd six and do a job. His running between the wickets is among the best of our players.”
Flower also believes Rizwan is one of Pakistan’s best fielders, meaning he can play as a specialist batsman as well.
While there have been questions surrounding Rizwan, Haris is a player that has promised much but has failed to deliver on the promise due to injuries. The left-hander seemed to be back to his best though and Flower believes Haris is now fitter than he was before, suggesting that he may be over the knee troubles that have plagued him in the past.
Haris may have proven his fitness against Australia but several other players fell some way short of the required fitness levels at the international standard and Flower admitted that passing the famous yo-yo test was not a requirement for the Australia series. The Zimbabwe legend revealed that will not be the case for the World Cup though.
“There was a fitness test done at Sharjah cricket ground where everyone was tested. Some of the guys didn’t pass that test,” he said. “But that was simply a wake-up call as to what was required. Everyone was told they would have to measure up to the minimum 17:4 in the yo-yo test if they are to go to the World Cup.”
The fifth century of the series was scored by Abid Ali on debut and Flower admitted that was a pleasant surprise, even if Abid’s fitness levels need to be worked on.
“Abid’s century was brilliant to see. I wasn’t expecting it, since we hadn’t done much work with him before the series,” he said. “I’d been told how good he was, but to see him timing the ball as beautifully as he did was very encouraging. Front foot, back foot, offside, legside, you name it. The Australians were very impressed by him. His [lack of] fitness showed at the end, otherwise I’m sure he would have won the match for us.”