Azhar Ali banks on experience and youth ahead of England Tests

Pakistan, who drew the 2016 Test series 2-2 and 1-1 in 2018 will be playing a three-match Test series against England, with the opener on August 5.

Azhar Ali

Pakistan Test skipper Azhar Ali during a media interaction.   -  AP

Skipper Azhar Ali said he is lucky to have young pacers like Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah at his disposal and the right balance of experience and youth in their pace unit will hold Pakistan in good stead in the Test series against England.

The three-Test series begins in a bio-secure environment at Manchester with the opening Test on August 5.

“The way Naseem and Shaheen have bowled in recent Test series, I as captain feel very lucky to have them in my squad,” he said during a podcast organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

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The 35-year-old said that the young pace bowlers in the extended squad are gaining immensely from the presence of experienced pros like Wahab Riaz, Sohail Khan, Muhammad Abbas and Imran Khan in the squad.

Experienced left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir has also now joined the squad in Derbyshire with another young pacer Haris Rauf set to join the team after finally clearing his COVID-19 tests.

“I am happy we have experienced and young blood in our pace attack and then there is Yasir Shah a proven performer in Tests,” he said.

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“The good thing is that players like Muhammad Abbas, Sohail Khan, Wahab are also on this tour and they are also sharing their experience with the youngsters. I think our bowlers will get a lot of advantage.”

Azhar said Yasir’s presence was a source of comfort for him as the experienced leg-spinner has done well in English conditions in his past tours.

The senior batsman said the players were a bit rusty at the start of their training but have been making steady strides towards regaining their form after coming out of quarantine in the first week of July.

“Because of coronavirus we have been in lockdown for quite some time and it was a challenging experience for all of us but it helped us get rid of our rustiness and now the bowlers are also doing well and are in rhythm. The workload for the fast-bowlers has been good,” he said.

“Our players seem to be in good touch. The balance of the side is also very good and the good thing is in the past we have done well in England in Tests.”

Pakistan drew the 2016 Test series 2-2 and 1-1 in 2018. Following the Test series, Pakistan will play three T20Is at Old Trafford starting August 28.

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