Batsmen need to catch up with bowlers - Azhar
Azhar Ali, Pakistan's new ODI captain, has said he understands the demands of modern cricket and hoped to get his young team to match the level. Azhar added that the onus was on the batsmen to lift their games and support the bowlers who have been playing their part well.
Recently named the ODI captain, Azhar, 30, has played only 14 matches, the last of them in January 2013. Although his strike rate has been a talking point, his promotion was seen as a continuation of stability akin to that provided by Misbah-ul-Haq.
However, Azhar said he was improving, just like his team. "I understand cricket has changed a lot and obviously we do have to take our cricket forward in a positive way," Azhar said. "But if you expect a sudden change, that is not going to happen. Rather than breaking into a race, we should gradually bring on a change. Definitely cricket these days is going fast and we are surely going to match the pace at the top level and it's important.
"As a team every one has a role. But yes, bowlers have definitely done well in the World Cup, so we are going to rely on them but it's important that batsmen should also feel the sense of responsibility," he said. "Cricket as I said is changing and we as a team have to play with a positive frame of mind. These players… all are coming up after performing at the domestic level and they are in form as well, so I don't think there should be any problem and you will see a much-improved batting side."
Azhar's first assignment as captain is the Bangladesh tour that starts from April 13. Along with the coach Waqar Younis, Azhar led the six-day conditioning camp in Lahore and signed off with satisfaction and asserted that his team was ready.
"I am seeing how excited the players are," Azhar said. "They want to do some thing for Pakistan and I am assured they it will be a different side. My approach varies accordingly but the team is like a family and has to create a friendly atmosphere. So if you manage well you can apply any sort of approach rather only being aggressive. But they are responding exactly the way I wanted them to be.
"Bangladesh's performance in World Cup was good and they looked a much-improved side. They are also tough in their conditions, so we are not going to take them lightly. There will be two teams fighting and I believe my young boys will perform well."
When asked if he has ready to fill in the big boots of Misbah - who had been the strongest link in Pakistan batting line-up, Azhar said, "I have a big example of Misbah bhai who led Pakistan in a very tough time and how positively he led the team. There are a lot of things that might not have made it to the public, but being a team member I saw a lot of good things in him - how he handled situations. So this is going to help me. There are a lot of great captains around the world but for me Misbah is the best captain I have played with. It is tough to cover the gap but we certainly have to step up to take his place."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson