Pakistan tour of England 2010 July 27, 2010

Relieved Azhar Ali looks ahead to England challenge

Cricinfo staff

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 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

  • Dummy4 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 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 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

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

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

  • Muhammad 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.

  • Dummy4 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.

  • Dummy4 on July 27, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    Best of luck pakistan team....

  • Dummy4 on July 27, 2010, 11:23 GMT

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

  • Dummy4 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...

  • allen 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.

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