Azhar Ali and Pakistan eye 'fragile' England top-order as series countdown begins

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Jun 29, 2020, 03.57 PM(IST)

Pakistan's Azhar Ali looks dejected as he walks off after losing his wicket. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali has his eyes on England “fragile top order” as the countdown for the upcoming series gets underway, 

Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali has his eyes on England “fragile top order” as the countdown for the upcoming series gets underway, England’s top-order batting has looked a bit shaky in recent times but the Pakistan captain made sure to lavish high praise on their bowling line-up.

England have been inconsistent against the new ball in recent years and no pair has opened together more than nine times. Even if the likes of Rory Burns has looked solid, he remains inexperienced like the others in the fray for the West Indies series. 

"Their bowling attack is brilliant in their own conditions and there is no doubt about it," Azhar said before leaving for England. "Other than Jofra Archer we have faced all of them - Broad, Anderson, Woakes, Stokes and even Wood was there, but we have still won against them. Looking at their batting, their top order has been fragile for some time since Alastair Cook retired. They have tried a lot of combinations lately and might be looking a bit more settled, but they haven't been really confident with it. So there is something for us in it to look at."

Pakistan have won three out of six Tests in two drawn series since 2016. 2-2 and 1-2 in 2016 and 2018 respectively. Pakistan remain to the only visiting tem to score 500+ in a Test in England since 2016. Azhar is optimistic about a win this time.

However, Pakistan’s inexperience bowling attack could be a problem. They might have fire but the experience needed to crack English conditions is lacking. Only Mohammad Abbas has played two Tests in the country and Yasir Shah has had a torrid time in England.

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"In terms of number of games, of course, England have tons of experience in their bowling," Azhar said. "But we have the skills: they [our bowlers] are young and have a lot to offer. They can give trouble to any team in the world. In a very short time, they have achieved a lot and that is a good sign.

"You can't buy experience immediately, and for that you obviously have to play more, but then we have a very experienced coaching staff with Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed. Their expertise and knowledge can be utilised and they will be helping them. So I believe, when this combo of experience and skill is brought together, that we can produce a great result. I am confident about this.

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"About spinners, we are not really sure about the conditions at the time of the Test series. The weather right now is great there but it changes frequently and suddenly. We don't know how it will pan out this summer. We will bring our game plan according to the conditions. We have a larger pool of player and have a lot of flexible options in our touring party."

Pakistan’s tour of England comprises three Tests starting the first week of August and as many T20Is ending in September.