Sarfraz Ahmed calls on Pakistan batsmen to turn up for second Test against New Zealand in Dubai

Updated 23 November 2018

Sarfraz Ahmed calls on Pakistan batsmen to turn up for second Test against New Zealand in Dubai

  • Pakistan captain tells brittle batting line-up they have to show backbone against the Black Caps.
  • Kiwis one up in three-match series having won in Abu Dhabi.

DUBAI: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed urged his faltering batsmen to play long innings to help their team bounce back in the second Test against New Zealand starting in Dubai on Saturday.

Since the retirement of two senior established batsmen Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq last year, Pakistan have been struggling to post big totals, especially in the run chase.

In the first test, they made heavy weather of a modest 176-run target, collapsing from 130 for three to 171 all out as New Zealand pulled off a sensational four-run win in Abu Dhabi.

Sarfraz says that Pakistan have left that defeat behind but recognise the shortcomings of their batting.

"What mistakes we committed we have left them in Abu Dhabi," said Sarfraz on Friday.

"If you analyse our last eight Tests or so, our batsmen get out without playing long innings so we have spoken to them about that."

Since the Younis-Misbah era Pakistan batsmen have scored only three hundreds in eight Tests, one each by Asad Shafiq (versus Sri Lanka in Dubai last year), Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail (against Australia in Dubai last month).

In that period Pakistan's Azhar Ali and Shafiq, who are now the senior batsmen, have been well below their best. Azhar has managed just 422 runs with no hundreds and Shafiq 590 with one hundred — a far cry from what Pakistan needed.

Sarfraz said Pakistan badly need a win in the second Test.

"This is an important Test for us so we should play good cricket and we realise how important it is to bounce back and then go on to win the series," said Sarfraz.

Pakistan have called up lanky teenage paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi — who took seven wickets against England Lions in the four-day game in Abu Dhabi this week — but his chance of making a debut in Dubai are slim.

New Zealand are mulling the option of including a third spinner in uncapped off-spinner Will Somerville. The last time they played three spinners in a Test was against India in Kanpur two years ago.

New Zealand batsman Henry Nicholls said his team are more confident after the win.

"Obviously, it was an ideal start for us to win the first Test and we have the belief heading into the second Test," said Nicholls who made a fighting 55 in New Zealand's second innings in Abu Dhabi.

"We bounced back after not an ideal start and found ways in conditions that are foreign to us, so it was nice and has given us confidence heading into the second Test."

"Pakistan will definitely look to bounce back so it's for us to improve and to assess quickly and adjust at a different ground and different wicket," said Nicholls.


Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

Updated 08 July 2020

Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

  • The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded

SHANGHAI: The retirement of two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan signals the end of a golden era of Chinese sporting superstars, state media said on Tuesday.

Arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, the 36-year-old said on Saturday that he was bringing the curtain down on a career that also brought five world titles.

NBA All-Star Yao Ming, Olympic gold-medal hurdler Liu Xiang and two-time tennis Grand Slam champion Li Na have all retired in the last decade.

“With the ‘Super Dan’ curtain call, people cannot help but sigh,” Xinhua news agency said.

“The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded.

“When will the next Lin Dan appear? Or when will the next Yao Ming, Liu Xiang and Li Na appear?

“Where is the next Chinese sports superstar who will create a collective memory for us?”

The quartet were not just world leaders in their sport and popular in China, but also had “considerable influence in the international arena and became a window for the world to understand China,” Xinhua said.

Of prominent Chinese athletes left, women’s volleyball player Zhu Ting has the potential to rise to superstar level, Xinhua said, while disgraced swimmer Sun Yang “enjoys high popularity (in China), but unfortunately he is banned.” 

The 28-year-old is appealing against an 8-year ban for refusing to give a doping sample. The three-time Olympic freestyle champion’s career will effectively be over if he loses his appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

China has world champions in other sports, and finished third behind the US and Britain in the medal table at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but they are not generally well-known even inside the country, Xinhua said.

Table tennis player Zhang Jike, another three-time Olympic gold medalist, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lin, said the Oriental Sports Daily.

But at 32 his best days are behind him and as far back as 2016 he signaled his intention to retire, before having a change of heart.

“When will the next Lin Dan and China’s next sports superstar appear again?” asked the newspaper.

“This question may not be answered in a short space of time.”