Going against the grain of popular opinion is quite a Pakistani cricket ‘thing’, but this current side is actually opposed to having a recipe for success in modern Test cricket.
They’re one-nil up in a series against England but after one-and-a-half Tests, they look shot already.
This is because the structure of their XI is a little backwards, inflexible and anti-modern.
In the bowling department they lack options, in the field they lack dynamism, and with the bat, are too heavily reliant on an ageing creaking 42-year old captain and his 38-year old right hand man.
Their side is plagued by rigidity and a lack of options.
They have no allrounders, with Mohamed Hafeez unable to bowl.
Their side is strictly precipitated into bowlers and batsmen, with Wahab Riaz coming in at number eight, giving Pakistan possibly the longest tail in the world.
For some, this isn’t a problem.
Their dysfunction is a crystallisation of Pakistan cricket. And, given their consistent success and production of quality, who can argue in many respects? And, after all, they won at Lord’s.
But, in truth, their current structure only works if everything clicks, which isn’t every time.
In modern Test cricket, there are higher run rates, lower over rates, flatter pitches and more cricket on the schedule.
Bowlers are bowling so much more than they were even 10-years ago.
Fatigue and injury has never been more of a factor, and taking catches and fielding in a dynamic fashion to limit run scoring has never been more important.
This is especially true, because Pakistan are only playing a four man attack. If everyone performs, like at Lord’s, then it it’s not a concern. But more often than not, at least one person won’t perform. Their spinner, Yasir Shah, who took ten wickets in the first Test bowled 54 pedestrian overs at Old Trafford, taking 1-213.
There was not just no plan B, but it didn’t really feel like he had a plan A. England played him very well, because they learned from their mistakes.
In that respect, whilst it’s true that Pakistan have a lot of quality in their side, and it’s no surprise they won the first Test; it’s also no surprise to now see them faltering.
They are showing signs of tiredness and a lack of enthusiasm. They are running out of ideas, and aren’t able to innovate when things go wrong.
Compared to England, who have a young top order, bat right down to number 10, with four seam options and a spinner, Pakistan look ominously lagging in depth.
They struck the first blow at Lord’s’, but it seems that in doing so, they used all their gas up.
England can now overtake them.