Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st Test, Harare, 1st day September 3, 2013

'Pakistan in reasonably good position' - Azhar

ESPNcricinfo staff

Despite an unimpressive performance by the top order, leading to Pakistan finishing the opening day nine wickets down, batsman Azhar Ali felt his side was in a reasonably good position. Zimbabwe's bowlers held control in the opening session, reducing Pakistan to 27 for 3, before Azhar and captain Misbah-ul-Haq saved their side from further embarrassment with a stand of 93 for the fourth wicket.

Azhar top-scored with 78 and it was a typical workmanlike innings from him, coming off 185 balls. He admitted though that Pakistan should have respected the conditions better in the morning session, as the seamers managed movement and awkward bounce. A ninth-wicket stand of 67 between Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan took Pakistan close to the 250-mark.

"It was a hardworking innings on a slow track," Azhar said. "I had to work hard for my runs because they bowled in the good areas. And I think we ended up in a reasonably good position.

"With some moisture on the pitch, we had a plan to get through to lunch. But we lost three early wickets which didn't help. We could have done a bit better."

Pakistan batted positively after lunch as the pitch started to settle. Azhar, who batted cautiously as he approached his fifty, said that Misbah's calming influence was helpful. After Misbah fell against the run of play, the responsibility grew on Azhar. He looked set for his fifth Test century but fell chasing a wide, away-swinging delivery from Shingi Masakadza and edged to slip. Azhar didn't hide his annoyance, swinging his bat at thin air as he walked off with Pakistan at 182 for 8 with an hour left in the final session.

"I was looking for some runs and they tried to bowl away from me," Azhar said. "I should have kept my cool a little to get the hundred. It would have been nice to get another hundred. "

Since his debut in 2010, Azhar has played 15 of his 28 Tests (including the ongoing Test) in venues outside the subcontinent and the UAE. He credited coach Dav Whatmore for helping him adjust to conditions where batsmen are challenged.

"The coach has really helped me with my technique, especially with teaching me how to handle things in different places we play in," Azhar said. "In international cricket, you have to improve day by day, you have to come up with new plans and you have to keep thinking."

Having described the pitch as "slow" on day one, with the seamers collecting seven wickets, Azhar expects the pitch to take more turn as the game goes on, bringing Ajmal and Abdur Rehman into play.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    @vaseem siddiqi: Sarfraz? he is not good at all. he is good wicket keeper but a poor batsman.. Pakistan need to groom M Rizwan as he has healthy domestic record and may be a good option. Sarfraz hasnt played any significant innings in his career so far.

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    I accept it is tough for batsmen like Yunus, Shafiq and Manzoor to walk into an away test match without a warm up game. However, there is no excuse for Hafeez's failure as he has been playing regularly in the country in T20s and ODIs. Once again he showed he is not a test batsman and sooner Pakistan drop him the better. I also think Adnan Akmal is not good enough to be in the Pakistan team as wicket keeper / batsman and this position should have gone to Sarfraz Ahmed. I have always been impressed with Azhar Ali and see him as future captain of Pakistan. I am astonished he is not part of the ODI team. In my opinion he should be made Vice Captain of the team both for ODIs and tests immediately. In my view currently the BEST test XI for Pakistan is: 1. Jamshed, 2. Shehzad, 3. Azhar (VC), 4. Yunus / Shafiq, 5. Misbah (C), 6. Umar Akmal, 7. Sarfraz, 8. Gul (currently injured), 9. Ajmal, 10. Junaid, 11. Irfan / Wahab.

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2013, 2:39 GMT

    typical harare surface, slow, spongy bounce and lateral movement in offer.

  • Dummy4 on September 3, 2013, 21:36 GMT

    Pakistan's batting is in a desperate situation having called Yunus Khan back, he seemed sluggish and out of sorts frankly. Something has to be done quickly to ensure Pakistan stays competitive in cricket, bowlers are tagging along and continuing the tradition but batting is in shambles if it was not for Misbah. Nasir Jamshaid has also started to fall on the way side and is starting to display no improvement in excersizing control over balls outside off stump he does not use his feet to such balls and I think opponents are starting to catch up specially in no sub continental conditions where the bowlers get more help.

  • Dummy4 on September 3, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    yes i agree.. because of a good fight back by ajmal and junaid this is now a very challenging score. Junaid, Ajmal & rehman will pose serious threat to ZIM and ZIM have to bat really well to take any lead.

    Some poor batting also helped a good and disciplined bowling by ZIM. and they bowled their heart out.

  • Pundit on September 3, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    Early start with damp,conditions what do top order batsmen expect! They need to practice on this that is there profession. Same excuses time and time again. Rubbish if top,order cannot play against a lowly attack despite any conditions.

  • Graham on September 3, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    Very true title. and the innings is by fate timed well, lose the final wicket in the morning and attack Zim with the early conditions and extra pace. I am following Zim but feel as a cricket follower that the Pakistan attack will be to much for a hastily re-constructed batting side, due to wages and baby issues. Tomorrow will be the day it all unfolds in Harare. By this I mean 3 day test or 5 day test.

  • Dummy4 on September 3, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    Azhar Ali should be in pakistan's odi squad permenaantly as he can be the other misbah of pakistan. He averages around 50 in list a matches, this should be enough to cement a place in the odi squad

  • aziz on September 3, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    Mr. Moin Khan where is the media control that you promised before the start of the series. Why is Azhar giving expert comments. Which coach helped him?