Shan Masood has blown hot and cold for Pakistan over the years in Test cricket scoring 1378 runs from 25 matches at 29.31. However, Masood is successfully establishing himself as a quality Test batter scoring 713 runs from six innings and being the highest run-scorer in ongoing County season so far.
Pakistan is always known for their quality bowling lineup. Elite bowlers like Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis, and many more have played in the past for them. Some greats like Inzamam-ul-Haq and Younis Khan were featured in their batting lineup but the batting unit didn’t have many stalwarts collectively. The team was also seen struggling in Test cricket at one stage but seems to have improved recently.
Pakistan's Test side has improved their quality lately and the series against Australia was its proof. They lost the Test series against Australia but put up a good fight in the series. The team have quality pacers like Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, and Naseem Shah. The batting unit includes quality batters like Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fawad Alam, and a newly emerging Abdullah Shafique. Amongst all of these quality players, Shan Masood has been one of the batters to be consistently in and out of the team. Masood has played his last Test more than a year ago. He was named in the squad for the series against Australia but was warming the bench for the whole series. He has been unable to cement his place in the team due to several factors but his recent performance in the ongoing County Championship Division Two has been terrific and the selectors will take a note of it for sure.
A solid and technically sound left-handed opener, Masood earned his international call-up after impressing the selectors with his exploits in junior and first-class cricket. He was first noticed by the selectors in first-class cricket after scoring 54 runs and putting together a partnership of 154 runs for the opening wicket. He also played well in England in 2009 scoring 1237 runs at an average of 103 for Stamford school establishing a school record. His breakthrough season in the domestic circuit was 2012-13 when he scored 543 runs at 54.30. With his excellence in the domestic, Masood was handed his Test debut against South Africa in 2013 and he was spectacular on the debut.
Masood played a gritty and gutsy knock of 75 runs on the debut against an elite bowling attack including Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, and Vernon Philander. Ever since his impressive debut, he has shown glimpses of his potential. Masood has amassed 1378 runs in 25 Test matches at 29.31 and four centuries. He was also given a chance in the ODIs by the team but his record of only 111 runs from five games kept him out of the side. Also, the team got more consistent batters after him and so his lack of runs kept him on the sidelines.
Now, Masood will have to compete with the likes of Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique to return as an opener for Pakistan. He will have a tough competition going ahead but consistent performances can put him back in the national team. The reason behind his possibility of a comeback to the Test side as a permanent opener is his showing in the recent County Championship so far.
Masood is currently plying his trade for Derbyshire in the County Championship Divison Two and has been impressive so far. Derbyshire played their first match against Middlesex and the right-hander announced his arrival to the form. He scored 91 runs from 152 balls in the first innings and played a knock of 62 runs in the second. His performance in the first innings helped the team secure a draw even after the opposition posted a total of 401. The second game was against Sussex and it was a complete Masood show. The batter displayed his potential and played a marathon knock of 239 runs. His innings put the team in a commanding position but the opposition showed enough resistance to draw the match.
The third match of the tournament was the peak point for the batter. He smashed 219 runs against Leicestershire to script their first win in the competition. He also became the first Pakistani batter to score back to back centuries in County Championships. Courtesy of his heroics, Derbyshire beat Leicestershire by an innings and 68 runs. Derbyshire head coach Mickey Arthur also praised him after his knock against Leicestershire. "Shan has been outstanding, of course. He has led from the front and has taken a lot of batsmen with him,” Arthur had said.
He continued his sublime form against Glamorgan scoring 60 runs in the first and 42 in the second innings. His last knock was the only one where he was dismissed for a score below 50. Masood has amassed 713 runs in just six innings at a mind-blowing average of 118.83 and is the leading run-scorer in the competition so far. Masood has been in red hot form and he is providing a solid foundation at the top for Derbyshire.
Only Masood’s record doesn’t make him a strong contender for the opening slot in the national team but his ability to play in such tough English conditions is commendable. His strike rate is 70.94 playing in England which is a decent one and also depict that he can steer the scoreboard if required in bowling friendly conditions. It is a very tough task to score with such consistency even after being in and out of the Test team regularly.
Masood is keen on donning the whites once again for Pakistan and is displaying that through his performances. Masood has made some tweaks in his technique and looks like an organized and compact batter, especially against pacers. Also, his experience in the County might help him evolve as a batter while playing in different conditions.