Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur confirmed in an interview with ESPNcricinfo that the injury to all-rounder Shadab Khan restricted the travelling side from playing five bowlers in the first two Tests against South Africa.
Following Pakistan losing both the first two Tests against the Proteas without reaching the final day at either Centurion or Newlands, Arthur was questioned as to why a fifth bowling option wasn’t included in the team. He confirmed that Pakistan would have done so, had Shadab Khan been fit enough to play in either match.
‘I am a big fan of the five-bowler strategy,’ said Arthur. ‘It gives us the added option of providing our frontline seamers with a rest, while still maintaining control of the innings. But to do that, we need a fully fit Shadab Khan, a genuine all-rounder. With Faheem [Ashraf] batting at seven, we feared the tail would be just a bit too long.
‘I am confident [Faheem] will develop into a proper all-rounder for Pakistan, but there is a process of natural evolution that needs to take place. In what were very challenging conditions, we needed runs on the board, and we weren’t confident that if we played Faheem at 7, followed by four bowlers, we were giving ourselves the best chance of making enough runs.
‘Here in South Africa, we can’t go into a game with two spinners, which makes Shadab, a spinner, but also a genuine all-rounder, so valuable. The bowlers will, of course, be fatigued if there’s no fifth option.’
Arthur’s comments have caused many to speculate that Shadab Khan will be included in the Pakistan side for the third and final Test match at the Wanderers, starting on Friday 11 January.
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