Manchester, 4 August 2020: Pakistan men’s national team captain Azhar Ali has expressed his satisfaction with his team’s preparation for the first Test of the three-Test ICC World Test Championship series with England which commences at the Old Trafford, Manchester on Wednesday.
Azhar announced the 16 member Pakistan squad while interacting with Pakistan media in an online press conference ahead of the first Test on Tuesday before sharing his views on team’s preparation for what promises to be an exciting series.
"The preparations have gone really well for the past month, we've trained really hard and used all the facilities organised by the ECB. We are very thankful, in Worcester and Derby we had all the things we could hope for. We are very much prepared for the Test match.
“You can't replicate Test cricket in the practice games, of course, but whatever opportunity we had we tried to prepare ourselves. Sometimes you have to be the one that plays second, so England have played three Test matches and that's good for them but there is no excuse in international cricket.
Azhar has high hopes from his pace attack comprising Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi Mohammad Abbas and Sohail Khan. The quartet was named in the final sixteen; Pakistan will be finalising their eleven on the morning of the match.
“They [fast bowlers] are very talented, obviously not as experienced as some of the bowling attacks that have come to England in the past but potentially they are right up there. I'm sure they are very much ready.
“It could have been really hard coming out of lockdown and all that in Pakistan, to get ready for a Test match in five or six weeks’ time. They have done really well and the team management has prepared them really well so they are ready for the Test match.”
Azhar is also confident his batting line-up will perform in English conditions despite the challenge of overcoming a formidable English bowling attack that will operate with the Dukes ball.
“They are rightly called the toughest conditions for overseas batsmen. They are quite tough for batting with a Dukes ball and the weather that makes it swing around.
“We have guys who have experienced it in the past like Babar and myself who played cricket in England before and so we want to try and use that to our advantage and transfer that knowledge to other players as well.
“We have coaches like Younis Khan and Misbah who have played a lot of cricket in England and performed, so we know how to play in England but it is always a challenge for us, especially for an Asian batsman to come here and perform.
Star batsman Babar Azam will be a pivotal player in the batting line-up and Azhar is greatly impressed by his improvement in the longest format in the last one year.
“His [Babar’s] performances have improved massively in Test matches over the last year or so. Firstly he was performing really well in white ball cricket and people thought he was only a white ball player.
“But he took on that challenge and played with a lot of freedom and flair which is really heartening to see. As a captain I want him to play the way he wants to. Just to relax and play his game and I'm sure if he does that he will go massively up the rankings in Test matches as well. He is a very important player for us but I would like him to be free from any pressure and just enjoy his game.”
The match begins at 11oo hrs local time, 1500 hrs (PST).
Pakistan 16 for the first Test:
Azhar Ali (c), Babar Azam (vc), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Imam-ul-Haq, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan and Yasir Shah.