ISLAMABAD - Test-discard right-arm pacer Umar Gul has suggested that the national side should replace Hassan Ali and Fakhar Zaman with Muhammad Abbas and Haris Sohail.

Talking to The Nation, Gul said: “I feel Muhammad Abbas, if fully fit, should replace Hassan Ali while Haris Sohail should replace Fakhar Zaman, who looks bit rusty and out of sorts. Fakhar needs to change his technique if he really wants to prolong his career especially in the longer version of the game.”

He said Sarfraz Ahmed should have invited Proteas to bat first as it would have given Pakistani bowlers a chance to grab early wickets and put South Africa under pressure. “I think Sarfraz might be thinking about batting in the fourth innings, which is always a minus point for Pakistan team and it always put extra pressure on the captain. I still believe that had South Africa batted first, the things could have been much different.”

Gul said Pakistan batting, as usual, flopped miserably and he couldn’t find one single outstanding delivery, which was the reason behind Pakistani batsmen’s downfall. “Almost all the Pakistani batsmen played highly irresponsible strokes and gifted their wickets to local bowlers. South African wickets traditionally support the bowlers in the initial period but gradually the wicket starts to ease down and batsmen mostly have chances of scoring big runs.

“But I fail to understand, despite staying at the crease and surviving early onslaught, why Pakistani batsmen failed to cope with not more than average South African bowling. Gone were the days, when Styen used to bowl dazzling deliveries and put opponents under pressure, while Rabada and Olivier were bowling at good length and forcing batsmen to commit mistakes,” he added.

Gul said that the way Pakistani batsmen gifted wickets to especially Olivier, it was surprising for him. “I was wondering, why Pakistani bowlers didn’t apply same tactics. Although Pakistani bowlers bowled well, yet they failed to stick to a plan and they bowled too many wayward deliveries. I still believe they could have done better, had they bowled consistently on good length. I feel Sarfraz did a fantastic job as a captain, as it is not his fault if batsmen fail to respond. Pakistani batsmen have to accept their responsibility and have to dig deep and to ensure consistent performances for the team.”

About Yasir Shah, the pacer said: “Yasir is a proven stuff and one or two matches aren’t enough to drop Yasir from the team. I still feel Yasir has a lot to offer and he can turn the tables on South African’s in the second Test. It also depends on the pitch, but for me, Yasir should play the second Test.

Replaying to a query regarding Muhammad Aamir, he said: “Amir bowled well in the first innings, but failed to get wickets in the second innings when it mattered the most. He was looking sharp and was bending his back well. I think after coming back, a bowler needs some time to settle down. Amair should be given opportunities as he is a type of bowler, who can single-handedly turn the entire situation of the match.”

On his fitness and comeback, Gul said: “I am working very hard on my fitness and game. I had enjoyed great domestic seasons and played in T20s as well in the National T20 Cup. I am feeling pain-free, bowling with full rhythm and ready to deliver for my country.”