Shan Masood, Yasir Shah heroics in opening Test galvanise Pakistan for Southampton clash
Although Pakistan lost the first ICC World Test Championship fixture against England in Manchester, they can draw comfort from the spirited performances of Shan Masood and Yasir Shah. The former scored 156 runs in the first innings while the latter took eight wickets in the match.
Both registered numerous records, which bodes well for Pakistan going into the second Test of the series in Southampton.
Shan Masood’s hot streaks
The left-handed opening batsman’s 156 in the first innings made him the sixth batsman and only the second opener to register centuries in three consecutive Test innings for Pakistan. In his previous two innings, he had scored 100 against Bangladesh in Rawalpindi and 135 against Sri Lanka in Karachi.
Muddasar Nazar (in 1983) is the other Pakistan opener to achieve this feat whereas the four middle-order batsmen who have done it are Zaheer Abbas (in 1982-83), Mohammad Yousuf (in 2006), Younis Khan (in 2014) and Misbah-ul-Haq (in 2014).
If Shan registers another triple-figure score in the second Test in Southampton, he will become only the second Pakistan batsman, after Mohammad Yousuf, to play four consecutive Tests and score a century in each of them. Yousuf had done it in five games in a row in 2006.
Since his comeback to the Test side in the Boxing Day Test at Centurion in 2018, Shan has accumulated 780 runs at an average of 48.75 with three centuries and as many fifties. The only Pakistan batsman with more runs in this period is Babar Azam (910).
Shan among the Pakistan greats
With his rearguard effort of 156 runs off 319 balls, Shan made it to the illustrious club of Pakistan openers who have scored a century in England, arguably the most challenging place in the world for top-order batsmen. Before Shan, only four openers from Pakistan had scored a century on English soil and none in 24 years – Saeed Anwar (176 at The Oval in 1996), Aamer Sohail (205 at Old Trafford in 1992), Muddasar Nazar (124 at Edgbaston in 1987) and Mohsin Khan (200 at Lord’s in 1982).
Yasir Shah on the rise
With eight wickets in the match, four in each innings, Yasir Shah (221 wickets) went past Clarrie Grimmett’s tally of 216 wickets to sit on seven in the list of most prolific leg-spinners in Test history.
His next target in the list is a leg-spin legend from his own country – Abdul Qadir (236 wickets). The record-holder is Australia’s spin whizz Shane Warne (708) followed by Anil Kumble (619), Danish Kaneria (261), Richie Benaud (248) and BS Chandrasekhar (242). Three of the seven highest wicket-takers among leg-spinners are from Pakistan while Australia and India have two each.
Yasir Shah enjoyed plenty of success in the first game ©Getty Images
Yasir has claimed 221 wickets in only 40 Tests, the most by any leg-spinner at this stage of a career. In fact, only one bowler in Test history had more wickets than Yasir after the completion of 40 matches – India’s Ravichandran Ashwin (223 scalps).
After having played match-winning roles with a 10-wicket haul at Lord’s and five-for at The Oval in 2016, Yasir continued his love affair with England taking eight wickets for 165 runs this time. He now has 27 wickets in five Tests in England. The only Pakistan slow bowler with more scalps in England is Mushtaq Ahmed (32 wickets in eight matches).
A rare failure for Pakistan bowlers
That Pakistan bowlers could not defend 277 runs in Manchester was a rare sight in Test cricket. It was only the sixth time in their history and the first time in this century that they conceded more than 250 runs in the fourth innings to lose a match. The previous occasion when they failed to defend a target in excess of 250 was in 1999 when Australia chased 369 in Hobart to win the match by four wickets.