Pakistan tour of England 2010 July 27, 2010

Relieved Azhar Ali looks ahead to England challenge

Cricinfo staff
27

Azhar Ali, the Pakistan batsman who played a crucial role in the Headingley Test victory, is pleased to be a part of the team that broke a 15-year losing streak against Australia. Azhar told Cricistan.com how the experience of watching Pakistan's losses to Australia over the years steeled him into action during his 51 in the second innings.

"Before I became a cricketer, I was a fan. As both a fan and a cricketer there was always a desire to see Pakistan beat the best team in the world," Azhar said. "There is a certain sense of frustration when you see Pakistan repeatedly lose from a winning position and when you stood outside looking in as a fan then there's a feeling of helplessness too. That's why I was determined that I would make the Aussies work for my wicket, they would have to take it from me.

Azhar came into the starting line-up for the series following the retirement of Mohammad Yousuf and the exclusion of Younis Khan, which left the middle order extremely thin on experience. While the batsmen did enough to go past the line in Headingley, Azhar admitted it was Pakistan's talented bowling attack that set up the victory.

"We won this game because the bowlers put us into such a great position on day one, after that it was our game to lose. I'm really proud of my second innings partnership with [Imran] Farhat and of my first Test 50 but I was absolutely gutted to get out. When my wicket fell we only needed 34 more runs and I had wanted to stay till the end and win the game for Pakistan," he said.

Pakistan were on the brink of victory at the start of day four, needing 40 runs with seven wickets standing. Australia came back into the game, picking four more wickets including Azhar's before Pakistan squeaked past the line. Azhar admitted the clutch of wickets made the dressing room nervous, but they were always confident of finishing it off.

"Of course when wickets fall together, there will be some trepidation in any dressing room. But on the final morning, there were so few runs needed that we still felt that we would win the match.

"Australia did their best to stop us, their fielding was brilliant. If they hadn't blocked a couple of early shots, which were on their way to the fence, then the game would've been over a lot quicker. They are experts at applying pressure and making even the smallest of totals look like they'll be hard to get. It worked for them against us in the past but today was our day and hopefully we've now broken that jinx." Azhar said.

Azhar was looking forward to the next challenge, the four-Test series against England which should be a rigorous test of his mettle at the one-drop position. "I agree that the No.3 position is a very important one. I want to be the best player that I can and I see batting at number three as a great challenge. It's an opportunity for me to show what I'm capable of and it helps my confidence to know that the team management has trusted me to bat at such a pivotal number.

"I look forward to the challenge of the upcoming Test series against England. They're a very good team and we're going to have to be at the top of our game to compete with them but I'm confident that this Pakistani team will give as good as it gets," he said. The first Test of the England series begins at Trent Bridge on July 29.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 27, 2010, 16:55 GMT

    Congratulations Pakistan!You can clearly see the impact of Waqar Younis as a coach. I don't understand why people going on and on about yousuf and younus? Lets give these youngsters proper chance.No one is born as experienced player they all get experience as they play.It will be easy for Salman Butt to maintain discipline with new players.Yousuf hasn't won single match for Pakistan in last 2 years.His figures are terrible and used ICL as blackmailing tool twice before and now threatening with retirement drama.He is 35 now and his career is over.Don't forget these so called experience players have been regular part of the team who has been loosing consistently over the past few years.Younis has 3-4 years left in him.Misbah is finished and please get rid of Malik as he is bad influence and useless player at test level.Please bring Yasir Hameed in and we are ok.

  • ABRAR-JANJUA on July 27, 2010, 16:31 GMT

    Azhar Ali is a talented player.The way he batted in pressure against The Australia it was exceptional.I don't agree with @Bebarg Khan that he plays like Ijaz Ahmed. Azhar's technique and foot work is better than Ijaz Ahmed.If he get fair chance and guides,He can be star of Future.

  • manasvi_lingam on July 27, 2010, 15:13 GMT

    With Yusuf and Younis back, it will make for a very good batting order. Push Kamran Akmal up to open: Butt, Kamran Akmal, Ali, Younis, Yousuf, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik/other allrounder, Aamer, Gul, Asif, Kaneria

  • gghdty on July 27, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    He plays a bit like Younus. Congrats team. Wheres Fawad Alam?

  • Gr8Ali on July 27, 2010, 12:17 GMT

    It has been Good to see that Pakistan management are giving chance to youngsters .But equally responsibility of the youngsters (specially Azhar Ali) to show their full potencial Atleast in the field unlike their seniours.

  • on July 27, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    Azhar Ali will be a good batsman like Javed Miandad. I am the very much fan of Pakistan cricket team. I would like to have minimum 2nos. of the senior players e.g. Yousuf & Younus in the Squad of the upcoming matches. Pakistan has to play always serious mood with any other team under the leadership of their said captain regardless edge and seniority then they can the win the match easily. I think that they are not so serious like Australia and India once they play with other teams. They should have the regularity. Their intention has to be winner attitude. This squad looks so far ok for an experiment for the future.

  • on July 27, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    Best of luck pakistan team....

  • on July 27, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    this pakistan young side is very good.we should keep them for long time.

  • on July 27, 2010, 11:22 GMT

    He seems to me love to play on back-foot, that makes him resemble to Ejaz Ahmed, but I think he need to be polished further and I agree with bebrage he should be kept away from Ejaz Ahmed...

  • Allen56k on July 27, 2010, 11:14 GMT

    Azhar Ali & Umair Ameen both should be made permanent for all forms of cricket in Pak team. I was shocked to see the body language of Akmal brothers - they just threw away thier wickets in both the innings. Pak cricket officials should Get rid of them if they want unity in the team; the sooner the better.

  • on July 27, 2010, 16:55 GMT

    Congratulations Pakistan!You can clearly see the impact of Waqar Younis as a coach. I don't understand why people going on and on about yousuf and younus? Lets give these youngsters proper chance.No one is born as experienced player they all get experience as they play.It will be easy for Salman Butt to maintain discipline with new players.Yousuf hasn't won single match for Pakistan in last 2 years.His figures are terrible and used ICL as blackmailing tool twice before and now threatening with retirement drama.He is 35 now and his career is over.Don't forget these so called experience players have been regular part of the team who has been loosing consistently over the past few years.Younis has 3-4 years left in him.Misbah is finished and please get rid of Malik as he is bad influence and useless player at test level.Please bring Yasir Hameed in and we are ok.

  • ABRAR-JANJUA on July 27, 2010, 16:31 GMT

    Azhar Ali is a talented player.The way he batted in pressure against The Australia it was exceptional.I don't agree with @Bebarg Khan that he plays like Ijaz Ahmed. Azhar's technique and foot work is better than Ijaz Ahmed.If he get fair chance and guides,He can be star of Future.

  • manasvi_lingam on July 27, 2010, 15:13 GMT

    With Yusuf and Younis back, it will make for a very good batting order. Push Kamran Akmal up to open: Butt, Kamran Akmal, Ali, Younis, Yousuf, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik/other allrounder, Aamer, Gul, Asif, Kaneria

  • gghdty on July 27, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    He plays a bit like Younus. Congrats team. Wheres Fawad Alam?

  • Gr8Ali on July 27, 2010, 12:17 GMT

    It has been Good to see that Pakistan management are giving chance to youngsters .But equally responsibility of the youngsters (specially Azhar Ali) to show their full potencial Atleast in the field unlike their seniours.

  • on July 27, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    Azhar Ali will be a good batsman like Javed Miandad. I am the very much fan of Pakistan cricket team. I would like to have minimum 2nos. of the senior players e.g. Yousuf & Younus in the Squad of the upcoming matches. Pakistan has to play always serious mood with any other team under the leadership of their said captain regardless edge and seniority then they can the win the match easily. I think that they are not so serious like Australia and India once they play with other teams. They should have the regularity. Their intention has to be winner attitude. This squad looks so far ok for an experiment for the future.

  • on July 27, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    Best of luck pakistan team....

  • on July 27, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    this pakistan young side is very good.we should keep them for long time.

  • on July 27, 2010, 11:22 GMT

    He seems to me love to play on back-foot, that makes him resemble to Ejaz Ahmed, but I think he need to be polished further and I agree with bebrage he should be kept away from Ejaz Ahmed...

  • Allen56k on July 27, 2010, 11:14 GMT

    Azhar Ali & Umair Ameen both should be made permanent for all forms of cricket in Pak team. I was shocked to see the body language of Akmal brothers - they just threw away thier wickets in both the innings. Pak cricket officials should Get rid of them if they want unity in the team; the sooner the better.

  • on July 27, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    pakistan has bright future with bowling attack.they can thrash any team in the world.yousaf and younis should not be in the team and shoaib malik and danish kaneria as well.bring back abdul razzaq and abdul rehman .

  • Psyc_s on July 27, 2010, 10:36 GMT

    Great Victory for Pakistan Team...As an Indian I always loved fierce competetion between our nations. Hope to see them in action in near future. All the very best for Pak team and Azhar Ali...

  • Jawaidnazir on July 27, 2010, 10:27 GMT

    I think we have to say bye bye to Younis & Yousuf.

  • on July 27, 2010, 9:53 GMT

    I appreciate his effort in last match but, No way for No.3 Position. let see how he plays in the next matches. there is no chance for him unless Younis Khan is kept away like they are doing it now.

    there is no better batsman in Pakistan better than Younis Khan in present. Bad luck Younis Khan, but I will personally support you. We really miss you both Yousuf and Younis Khan.

  • Ali_J_01 on July 27, 2010, 9:38 GMT

    Azhar Ali got the good test match temperament, but still hes got lot to learn

  • on July 27, 2010, 9:31 GMT

    At No three younis khan scored 173 & 41 in pakistans last test at leads and yousaf scored 192 & 8 run out. The wicket and conitions were the same as pakistan still lost the match. Can any batsman in the current team maintain that standard.

  • dmqi on July 27, 2010, 9:26 GMT

    I think Azhar has played a very crucial role in the win against formidable Austarlian side. Best find one down in the recent past for Pakistan. Now they need two more good batsmen who can play test cricket. My pick is Fuad Alam/Yasir Hamid and one of the two Y's. That will make the England test series enjoyable and exciting. Good luck Azhar, hit couple of centuries against England

  • Zahidsaltin on July 27, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    @Bebarg Khan.....Azhar is much more technical than Ijaz was.... AZHAR ALI has to score big to be counted as a good player. A century is what is required of him. He should learn to play an out swinger which is close to the body, and specially that one which has a lift in it. I admire your sense to leave the out side off balls. You need to start playing your shots when you reach 30s but with carefull choice of balls. May Allah give you more success.

  • on July 27, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    Azhar Ali is copy of Ijaz Ahmed (now the fielding coach). I have yet to see how he play in the air. Ijaz Ahmed was not less then a wood chopper. Start of Azhar Ali suggests a new version of Ijaz. Lets hope he does not follow his foot steps.

  • Rahim_BD on July 27, 2010, 8:13 GMT

    I think Pakistan has a bright future if they can maintain discipline and unity in the team which was lacking in the recent past. With the inclusion of Mohammad Ysuf in the team they will always look threatening to any team. Umar Akmal needs to bat up in the order may be no.3 or 4 not no.5.Pak future seems to be bright!

  • sal80 on July 27, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    Great thoughts and the whole nation feels helpless when we see our team thrashed by aussies over again and again but finally you and the other team members has done it finally.. you 2nd inning performance was superb to see keep it up and keep ur head high against england.

  • on July 27, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    It is nice to see that a youngster like azhar is thinking like that we wish him all the success in the england series and years to come

  • Faisee on July 27, 2010, 6:58 GMT

    Definitely he is full of confidence but Pakistn Still need at leas one out Of Younis and Yusuf. i believe Azhar can cement his place once he get support from other end that can be provded best by one of two Y's, then he can build his innings and carrer around there experienced assistance.

  • hasan.cheema on July 27, 2010, 6:55 GMT

    Best of luck Azahr Ali,, Best of Luck Pakistan...

  • on July 27, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    Azhar is a good batsman, and good addition to the Pakistan Lineup. We hope that he will do much batter in coming test series.

  • Milan31 on July 27, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    Now that's what i called confidence. Pakistan should continue with Azhar Ali. He is on the making of compact No. 3 batsman Pak is searching for.

  • sallu87 on July 27, 2010, 6:37 GMT

    The caption under the picture is incorrect.

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  • sallu87 on July 27, 2010, 6:37 GMT

    The caption under the picture is incorrect.

  • Milan31 on July 27, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    Now that's what i called confidence. Pakistan should continue with Azhar Ali. He is on the making of compact No. 3 batsman Pak is searching for.

  • on July 27, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    Azhar is a good batsman, and good addition to the Pakistan Lineup. We hope that he will do much batter in coming test series.

  • hasan.cheema on July 27, 2010, 6:55 GMT

    Best of luck Azahr Ali,, Best of Luck Pakistan...

  • Faisee on July 27, 2010, 6:58 GMT

    Definitely he is full of confidence but Pakistn Still need at leas one out Of Younis and Yusuf. i believe Azhar can cement his place once he get support from other end that can be provded best by one of two Y's, then he can build his innings and carrer around there experienced assistance.

  • on July 27, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    It is nice to see that a youngster like azhar is thinking like that we wish him all the success in the england series and years to come

  • sal80 on July 27, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    Great thoughts and the whole nation feels helpless when we see our team thrashed by aussies over again and again but finally you and the other team members has done it finally.. you 2nd inning performance was superb to see keep it up and keep ur head high against england.

  • Rahim_BD on July 27, 2010, 8:13 GMT

    I think Pakistan has a bright future if they can maintain discipline and unity in the team which was lacking in the recent past. With the inclusion of Mohammad Ysuf in the team they will always look threatening to any team. Umar Akmal needs to bat up in the order may be no.3 or 4 not no.5.Pak future seems to be bright!

  • on July 27, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    Azhar Ali is copy of Ijaz Ahmed (now the fielding coach). I have yet to see how he play in the air. Ijaz Ahmed was not less then a wood chopper. Start of Azhar Ali suggests a new version of Ijaz. Lets hope he does not follow his foot steps.

  • Zahidsaltin on July 27, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    @Bebarg Khan.....Azhar is much more technical than Ijaz was.... AZHAR ALI has to score big to be counted as a good player. A century is what is required of him. He should learn to play an out swinger which is close to the body, and specially that one which has a lift in it. I admire your sense to leave the out side off balls. You need to start playing your shots when you reach 30s but with carefull choice of balls. May Allah give you more success.