In cricket there are very few venues that can be intimidating for a player. Lord’s, Eden Gardens, fall under this category and so does the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). And when the occasion is the Boxing Day Test, then the stakes only get higher.
Pakistan will be involved in this iconic event, which is scheduled on Monday (December 26) after seven long years. So, it is natural that most of their players will feel the nerves when they take the field during the second Test.
Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan and Mohammad Amir are the only ones from their side who have previously played a Boxing Day Test. It will be a first for the remainder of the squad and Asad Shafiq acknowledged the fact that it is going to be a humongous occasion for him and most others.
“We know the importance of the game,” Shafiq said, ahead of the second Test on Saturday (December 24). “It’s a big Test match, the Boxing Day one. We all grew up watching this match in Pakistan. We know the value of this Test.
“We will feel it [pressure] a little because we probably haven’t played in front of such a big crowd. And this ground has a really prestigious history and playing here is a big honour for me, for everyone but especially for those playing here for the first time, there is also a lot of excitement. But the way we played that first Test, we’re very united and are hopeful that we can get a good result in the next two Tests.”
A fine display of batting in the second innings orchestrated Pakistan’s comeback in Brisbane, which should’ve boosted their confidence, specially after being nearly dead and buried after the first innings capitulation. They can also look at the statistics and keep up their chins, given that four of their wins in Australia have come two each in Melbourne and Sydney.
“Yes, I have heard about this [record] and seen it too that this wicket suits Pakistan a bit more,” Shafiq opined. “This is in everyone’s mind, that if we do get to bat first and put up a good total, we are capable of winning the match. But every day is a new day, every match is a new match. You have to work hard and play hard for every win.”
“We are hopeful, we are positive, especially after the first Test,” he added. “We are playing positive and good cricket. Nobody was expecting we would come back like that.
“But we all showed the character, we all showed courage. And these kind of matches always give you confidence as a team, as a player. Especially if it’s the first Test of the series – it always helps in the next Tests.”