Saturday, 25 January 2020

Babar’s Test ‘breakthrough’ the big positive: Azhar Ali

AFP PHOTO / NEZAR BALOUT (Photo credit should read NEZAR BALOUT/AFP/Getty Images)

ADELAIDE – Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali lauded Babar Azam’s ability to handle the likes of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc to deliver under pressure.

“Babar’s been tremendous in white-ball cricket and in the recent past, he’s been gradually building up his Test stats as well,” Azhar said of Azam. “But this series definitely will be the breakthrough he wanted. We were all hopeful that he’ll do it. He’s a good enough player. We all know that. But sometimes if you score in tough conditions against tough bowling attacks, it gives you the extra boost and the belief that you can make even better strides in Test cricket.

“That’s been a big positive now for us that Babar has stamped himself a Test player. He’s been fantastic throughout the year and he’s been lovely to watch and hopefully he can continue this form in the Tests that are coming,” he added. He said: “Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan has been performing in first-class cricket for a few years now. And then he had a fantastic couple of ‘A’ tours in Dubai. And then he played against Australia in one-day cricket and scored centuries there as well,” Azhar pointed out. “He’s been waiting and obviously, Sarfraz Ahmed is another one who’d been performing really well for Pakistan. We have a very healthy competition.  “Rizwan waited for his chance and then grabbed it with both hands.

The way he batted at Gabba and the way he kept wickets in both games has been fantastic. His energy is always good for the team, whenever we were down in the field, he kept us up. That’s fantastic for any team. He’s a team man.” Azhar noted that Pakistan have a young team, and stressed the importance of scheduling more ‘A’ tours to Australia, so that the cricketers coming through the ranks could get to play in different conditions. “It has been a disappointing series. We didn’t live up to the expectations that were based around this young team. This was the best possible team we could have picked, especially with regards to the bowling options. But you also have to see that in Australia you need a certain kind of pace attack. And in our domestic cricket, we don’t have those kind of pacers. The moment you have to bowl with a Kookaburra, you need an extra element of pace. “But we felt that these guys were in the best shape to deal with the conditions here, and that’ll be the case in the future. We shouldn’t get too disappointed about this and keep in mind that young bowlers like these will only play more cricket and get better. We need to show some patience” he added.

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