Injury to a key bowler has restricted Pakistan cricket Mickey Arthur's options. Photo: Dave Hunt

CAPE TOWN – Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has put down an injury to leg-spinner Shadab Khan as the reason behind why the visitors have not used a five-man bowling attack across the first two Tests against South Africa.

In both matches, Pakistan opted to field a four-man bowling attack, with the spin of Yasir Shah supported by three pacers. 

While the first Test saw South Africa triumph by six wickets, the second Test saw to a more resounding victory from the Proteas, chasing a target of 41 runs within 10 overs after a Faf du Plessis ton helped South Africa to a first-innings total of 431. 

With just four frontline bowlers, part-time overs for Pakistan were found from Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq.   

A player who has been ignored thus far is Faheem Ashraf, the fast-bowling all-rounder, with Arthur deeming him not ready to fulfil the task of batting at seven for Pakistan.

"I am a big fan of the five-bowler strategy," Arthur told ESPNCricinfo. "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, who is a genuine all-rounder. With Faheem batting at seven, we feared the tail would be just a bit too long."

Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq ducks to avoid a bouncer on day three of the second cricket test match between South Africa and Pakistan at Newlands. Photo: AP Photo/Halden Krog
Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq ducks to avoid a bouncer on day three of the second cricket test match between South Africa and Pakistan at Newlands. Photo: AP Photo/Halden Krog

Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has occupied the No 7 spot in both Tests thus far, recording a pair at the Centurion before hitting an impressive first-innings half-century at Newlands. 

Arthur added that while he believes that Faheem has a bright future, he remains a work in progress.

"Make no mistake, I'm a huge admirer of Faheem Ashraf, and I said so in England. I am confident he will develop into a proper all-rounder for Pakistan, but there is a process of natural evolution that needs to take place. 

"In what are very challenging conditions, we need 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." 

African News Agency (ANA)


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