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England v Pakistan

Should Pakistan pick Shadab Khan or Fawad Alam? Wisden India writers have their say

by Wisden Staff 3-minute read

After a pulsating thriller in Manchester, where Pakistan, some will say typically, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, the teams will go again at the Ageas Bowl from Thursday.

Pakistan will not want to change much, having dominated most of the four days of the first Test, but they will want to address their batting collapse in the second innings, which played a part in their eventual three-wicket loss.

It comes down to one middle order slot, and two very different batsman – the explosive, adventurous Shadab Khan or the 34-year-old Fawad Alam, the more assiduous accumulator who has waited over 10 years to play his fourth Test match.

Who should Pakistan pick? Wisden India writers have their say.

Manoj Narayan, Wisden India editor

Fawad Alam, just about. Mostly because Pakistan don’t need two spinners in Southampton, and Yasir Shah has made himself untouchable after the first Test. Shadab Khan barely bowled. He was of more use to Pakistan as a batsman, his 45 in the first innings the latest in a string of good scores in England – he had three half-centuries on his previous tour to these parts, including 52 and 56 at Lord’s and Leeds.

Which is why it might seem puzzling that I’d pick Fawad in his place, a batsman whose last Test came at a time Lady Gaga’s Poker Face was a worldwide best-seller. But Fawad is the type of batsman Pakistan need at the moment. Shadab’s all adventure and brave – if it comes off, it’s great, but it’s hard to rely on it. Fawad’s brand of steely, traditional Test batting gives Pakistan, in theory, more of a chance to avoid collapses, like the one that cost them the first Test.

Aadya Sharma, Wisden India staff writer

Shadab Khan. Despite increasing calls for Fawad Alam’s inclusion, Shadab retains his spot in the playing XI for me. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious need to force a change. Shadab is a handy bat at No.7, as he showed during his 105-run stand with Babar Azam in the first innings in Manchester. While he might not have bowled as much as he would have liked there, Shadab is a trusted option to fall back on if Yasir Shah, or one of the pacers, are off colour. There might not be enough turn on the Southampton surface, but Shadab could yet have an impact. He can make the ball grip, and remember, Moeen Ali has 17 wickets from two Tests there.

Roshan Gede, Wisden India staff writer

Fawad Alam. Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler’s brilliant 139-run stand during the run-chase last week somewhat overshadowed the more defining passage of the game – Pakistan’s second-innings collapse from 111-4 to 169 all out. There wasn’t a contribution of note from the middle-order in the first innings either, which makes a strong case for another batsman in the XI. Fawad could provide that much-needed solidity. His recent form and the overall first-class numbers can’t be overlooked, and being a southpaw, he’ll be a good fit in a side with plenty of with right-handers. With Southampton expected to offer little assistance for the spinners, and with Yasir Shah seemingly having rediscovered his magic, there’s little room for Shadab Khan.

Sankalp Srivastava, Wisden India staff writer

Fawad Alam. While Shadab Khan was handy with the bat in the first innings in Manchester, Pakistan need a lot more solidity in their middle order if they are to make a comeback in the series. Fawad can provide that. Shadab bowled only 11.3 overs in the Manchester, and that shows captain Azhar Ali won’t miss his legbreaks too much. What the inclusion of Fawad also does is allow Asad Shafiq to move down to his preferred sixth spot in the order, where he has scored 3,011 Test runs at 41.81. Yes, Fawad hasn’t played a Test in over a decade, but his first-class numbers – 12,265 runs at 56.78 – speak volumes of his ability.

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