Fading Faheem Ashraf: Analyzing The Symbol Of Pakistan's Muddled Decline In Pak-Eng Tests

Earlier in March 2022, Babar Azam called up Faheem Ashraf for the Karachi test after the bowler missed the series’ first game against Australia. This proved to be fruitful for the team as they managed to restrict a loss.

As Faheem Ashraf’s test career stats highly spoke of him, the selectors trusted him for providing important breakthroughs. This bowling allrounder took Warner’s wicket and checked the visitors from off to picking a breezy start in the second test. 

Later on, Ashraf’s selection for the series against England in December 2022 again became inconsistent. Subsequently, Pakistan suffered a straight 0-3 loss in the test series hosted at home. 

Probable Reasons Why Faheem Ashraf Missed the First Test Against England

As per Nasser Hussain's take, Babar Azam held a much more conservative approach while selecting his bowling options. Before the series, Faheem Ashraf’s records boasted some impressive test cricketing knocks of 83, 91, 48, 64 and 78* among the only 12 innings played for his country. 

Overlooking the feat, Babar preferred going with the 19-year-old right-arm fast bowler Naseem Shah to explore additional options against the strong English batting lineup. Unfortunately, Pakistan conceded a slim loss of 74 runs in their first encounter as their lower middle order lacked some character in the second innings.

Many are criticising the loss because of the lack of a plan B. No doubt, Babar’s decision was clinical in terms of the pitch report. Yet both of his vital bowling picks, Mohammad Ali and Salman Agha, were not utilised to their full potential against England in their second innings. 

Additionally, when it came to batting on the final day, the last four batsmen could merely put up 7 runs on the board. This disappointing performance again compelled Faheem Ashraf’s match presence for the final two games of that series. 

Understanding What Probably Undermined Faheem's Contribution to the Final Two Tests

Throughout the series, there was an utter confusion in picking out Pakistan's best middle-order combination. Even almost 80% of their bowling overs were being handled by only three attacking spearheads: Noman Ali, Abrar Ahmed and Mohammad Wasim Wazir. This led to blunt outcomes moving deeper into the sessions. 

Faheem got pretty limited scope as he bowled only nine overs in the second game and a couple in the final. However, his batting resilience in Pakistan's first innings gave the side a fighting chance in the second test. 

It’s high time for the team management to understand the impact that this player can bring in whenever given an opportunity. Starting from Faheem Ashraf’s debut match against Ireland, where he scored an exceptional 83 coming at no.7, the player has managed to maintain an average of 35 with the bat. 

Previously, he was posing threats to the English opener Jonny Bairstow, sending the world-class batsman back to the pavilion twice. Additionally, some other key batters like Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, and Kane Williamson have lost their wickets to him in the past.  

Faheem Ashraf has suffered inconsistency in Pakistan's cricket team for various reasons. At times, his name was struck off following COVID-19 symptoms, while sometimes the selectors got bamboozled owing to multiple options for the no.7 position. 

Despite everything, hardly anyone can deny Ashraf's superiority as one of Pakistan's premier medium-pace bowling all-rounders. Moving forward, his inclusion will prove to be vital for the team in the Asia Cup. 

Which Big Bash side does Faheem Ashraf represent?
Recently, Faheem played for Hobart Hurricanes in the 2023-24 season of the Big Bash League. He has a wicket-taking average of 1.3 bowling for Hobart in the 1st innings.
What is Faheem Ashraf’s height?
Faheem's height is 1.78m. His height helps generate extra bounce even while bowling at a moderate pace on slower tracks.
Who is the brother of Faheem Ashraf?
Zain Ashraf is Faheem’s brother. The cricketer also has two sisters.