Azhar Mahmood, Pakistan’s bowling coach, urged his fast bowlers to learn to take wickets with the new ball to help the spinners attack later.
Pakistan’s seamers failed to get early breakthroughs on the first day of the first Test against Sri Lanka. A total of 419 by Sri Lanka on the back of a brilliant, unbeaten 155 by Dinesh Chnadimal left Pakistan to fight for safety in the match.
Mahmood, however, said he was satisfied with the bowling performance.
“The challenge in a Test is to take 20 wickets and win it. The best thing is that we bowled well,” he said on Friday (September 29). “We didn’t bowl well with the new ball — the first six overs — so we need to learn how to take wickets with the new ball because if you get wickets at the top it helps Yasir (Shah) attack. But we gave 419 runs in five sessions, which is okay.”
Pakistan finished the second day at a confident 64 for no loss with Sami Aslam (31) and Shan Masood (30) untroubled on a flat batting pitch.
Mickey Arthur, the head coach, defended Pakistan’s strategy of going into the Test with three seamers and one spinner on Thursday, and so too did Mahmood, a pace-bowling allrounder in his playing days. “There was a lot of talk that the pitch has grass or we should have played with three spinners but we went with our strength,” he explained. “We played Test matches in the West Indies with three seamers.”
Yasir bowled 57 overs, taking 3 for 120, but Mahmood didn’t feel he was burdened. “Yasir has to bowl and we have to use him,” he said. “He normally bowls 35-40 overs in an innings but since the wicket was slow and there was only swing later on, he was used more.
“Because of the heat there was a lot of sweat on the hands and that’s why the ball was not getting dry. Once it did, it did reverse swing later on. When there is reverse swing then bowlers will get help in getting wickets. But we have to work on how to use the new ball. It will help Yasir.”
Mahmood maintained the plan is to always keep things simple in a Test. “It’s simple in Tests,” he said. “You have to bowl top of the off stump, in the channel. If you get swing or seam, then you have two, three slips and the aim is to get the batsman out behind the wicket. If it doesn’t swing or seam, then you have to change the length.
“The other aim is not to give easy runs because fast bowlers hold and spinners get wickets.”
Pakistan need another 355 runs to overhaul Sri Lanka’s total and build a good lead if they are to win the game.
“I tried my best,” said Mohammad Abbas, the fast bowler who finished with 3 for 75. “It was not easy to bowl, but we all tried and the last two sessions were [difficult].”