In the current series between South Africa and Pakistan, at the top of the run charts is a name that is unlikely. Most likely, most of all, because he’s a Pakistani in a series in South Africa, not to mention a series that has sealed South Africa just over six days, with a test yet to come. Even more unlikely, because Pakistan has not evacuated 200 in three of its four innings.
What makes the chart topper even more unlikely is that he should have played no role in the series. It was not until Haris Sohail had injured eleven hours that he was forced into Centurion on the morning of the Boxing Day test. Later in the series, Shan Masood was thrown in the side. In third position, a position the opener has never beaten at the test level, Masood has had to make an impact in the most challenging environments, especially for a player who had recently played international cricket 14 months ago.
That Masood was not a regular guest was a mystery to Pakistan Cricket. He is a great left-hander with a simple elegance. He was a test underachiever with an average of 23.54 for his first 24 innings. That he never seemed to run long enough could not have helped. Of the 45 test bouts that Pakistan played between its debut and the start of this series, Masood was involved in 12.
The disappointing dozen had encountered no fewer than five different spells, with Masood never allowing more than three consecutive tests. And so Masood dropped out of Sri Lanka in 2017 after a miserable home run and wanted to do whatever it took to work on what had held him back.
He sought help from Abdur Rehman, a well-known but often overlooked local Peshawar coach who worked with the Pakistani A teams. Unusually, he spoke with several independent analysts to strengthen both the mental and the technical aspects of his game. One of the most important technical changes to these sessions is Masood, who plays with softer hands than before and takes a short step towards the ball, giving him the balance to keep his head from falling.
Even his success against the short ball in this series could probably be due to this shorter step, which prevents him from getting too low and the ball gets too big for him.
Otherwise, the importance of surviving the beginning of an innings, the first 20 bullets or so, was driven home. This has impressed Mickey Arthur also with his players. Masood has been successful for about a year now, even though most of his runs are in white ball formats. An excellent start to the Quaid e-Azam trophy this season led him to join the Pakistani A-squad, where he was able to show the dazzling shape he has brought to South Africa.
Two hundred in a first-class match against New Zealand A, followed by 73 in the next game and a 161 in a List-A match against England Lions in November brought him the South Africa trip into the race. Having got the chance, he finally seems to have settled in the page that looks like a permanent presence, rather than an emergency solution that should be discarded in favor of a more promising option.
The most striking feature was his tendency to choose the length of the South African pacemaker early, an ability that helped him slow down the host’s most dangerous weapon: the short ball.
Most sub-continental batsmen have long been cursed here, and on places that are spicy even by South African standards, Masood has not apologized to get in the way. Of the 42 short balls the South Africans hurled at Masood, he scored 46 runs with a strike rate of 109.5
No other batsman who had over 20 short deliveries scored a ball in one run. The pull was Masood’s most effective shot in response to the short stuff; it has brought him 36 processes, only 21 deliveries. Duanne Olivier, who has brought Pakistan the biggest clash in this series, dropped 25 of the 42 short balls Masood came across and conceded 29 runs without ever taking him out.
Although Masood’s percentage of control over the short delivery – 78.6 – is slightly lower than Babar Azam’s (80%) or Asad Shafiq’s (78.9%), he has more short deliveries than the two together (42 versus 39). , In addition, he has scored 46 runs in this time, the other two reached 20.
Masood is writing his remarkable improvement from last year until the middle of the day.
“I played a lot of cricket during that time,” he says. “I know that we are severely undermining domestic cricket, but I got back into it and played a lot of domestic games, it also helped us to have some good A-tours after a long time, we played New Zealand and England and the Australian national team in the warm-up game: As a cricketer you have to play more and more games and so you get better.
“Any work you do out of the field is not that important unless and until you go in and perform, which is the only thing that will make you better and give you the experience of playing international cricket. how well do you see what counts is the headers column I would like to have bigger runs and I’m working towards that and hopefully everything I’ve done in the past may reflect on larger runs in the future. “
This may be the next step Masood has to take to make him feel safer with a longer side run. Scores of 19, 65, 44, and 61 point to promising approaches without the conversion rate that makes world-class batsmen world-class. In South Africa it may be difficult to find these great innings – only a century has been counted in all series – but Masood believed that despite all their challenges, Masood allowed batsmen to score.
“There’s going to be a ball with your name on it, but the good thing about these surfaces is that they give you the opportunity to score,” he said. “After lunch on the first day [at the Cape Town Test], when I and Sarfraz came out, we got many escape routes and many borders. Unfortunately I argued that I should have stayed, but this surface always keeps the bowler at stake,
“When two batsmen are hired, we need to make sure they get ahead and score big The story of the tour is that batsmen have come in and got off to a good start, but no one has reached this big score.”
In addition to the improved technique, Masood’s bloodthirstiness has made him a different beast than the one who used to play for Pakistan. Masood had found a good form at No. 3 and attributed the openers recognition for his relief, and so Masood did not have much time to make his place his own. When Fakhar Zaman fought hard against the new ball, it was Masood rather than Azhar Ali who was catapulted to the top of the order. There he was, Pakistan’s accidental starter, against Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.
Unimpressed, he scored another half-century from this position, but paid like the first innings the price for a small loss of concentration. When he stung one of Steyn at the age of 61, he pushed with his outer edge to the wicketkeeper. The pain in his eyes was obviously visible to everyone.
The desire, the competitive spirit and the will to improve were never in question. More than once during his career, he has tracked down people from outside the game looking for ways to improve his punch. When Arthur entered the game as a coach and imposed strict fitness standards, most players had difficulty playing with them initially. Masood’s name was always at or near the top in this department.
The hours outside the course were never the problem for Masood. Now it has settled on hours on the field, and he will hope to be many months and years in Test Whites in a career that may have just begun in five years.