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'Picking up 20 wickets, constructing partnerships crucial to success in Australia' – Azhar Ali
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'Picking up 20 wickets, constructing partnerships crucial to success in Australia' – Azhar Ali

Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali on Monday said that adjusting to the conditions quickly and constructing partnerships were crucial to success if Pakistan hoped to better their horrible Test record in Australia.

Pakistan were thumped by an innings and 48 runs in the second Test at Adelaide, which was a day-night affair. They were handed an innings loss in the first match at Brisbane.

The two losses have now added up to an already poor record Down Under, with Pakistan now losing 14 consecutive Test matches in Australia.

Azhar said the A team tours were now crucial to give younger players more exposure of the indifferent conditions.

Also Read: Lyon's fifer decimates Pakistan to secure series sweep for Australia

"They will get a lot of benefit from that," he said, adding that teams arriving earlier would be of a great benefit.

Pakistan’s top-order was exposed by the pace trio of Australia but Azhar insisted the shot selection of batsmen wasn’t ideal.

“If you see this whole match, our batsmen didn’t get out due to the ball or the pitch very often. We have discussed it as well, especially in the evenings even a slight mistake can cost you dearly. It zips more and there’s a lot of swing and movement.

"These are the best batting conditions anywhere in the world. If you can get used to the bounce and pace you can make runs. But it needs to be a team effort, partnerships are important.”

‘The best possible team with regards to bowling options’

The most important reason behind Pakistan’s loss was the inexperience of their bowling line-up which failed to create enough pressure on the opposition batsmen.

In a total of two Tests, Australia lost only 13 wickets, which vindicated a horror run for Pakistan bowlers. They barely hit the consistent channel outside off as compared to their peers and more often than not, Australia were seen cruising at a brisk run-rate.

Naseem Shah, who surprisingly didn’t play in the second Test, was termed as a ‘surprise package’ ahead of this tour by Misbah-ul-Haq.

Instead, Pakistan opted for another youngster for Adelaide Test, Muhammad Musa, who was often seen bowling too short instead of settling in on a length. Former Australian great, Ricky Ponting, in his scathing assessment of Pakistan’s ineffective bowling line-up, said [as quoted by cricket.com.au]: "I'm not sure I have seen a worse bowling attack on our shores in a long time."

Azhar, as well, rued the lack of quality fast bowlers in domestic cricket but said Pakistan needed to show more patience with the younger crop of players.

“This was the best possible team we could have picked, especially with regards to the bowling options. But you also have to see that in Australia you need a certain kind of pace attack. And in our domestic cricket, we don’t have those kind of pacers.

“We shouldn’t get too disappointed about this and keep in mind that young bowlers like these will only play more cricket and get better. We need to show some patience.

"To win Test matches we also have to take 20 wickets and we have to work out how we can do that in Australia. Getting in front of the game here is very important."

‘A big positive that Babar has stamped himself as a Test player’

Babar Azam, a prolific batsman in white-ball cricket, transformed his reputation as a quality player, hitting a sublime hundred in Brisbane and 97 in Adelaide Oval.

Babar’s dominance with the bat started off with an eye-catching hundred against Australia A in Perth before continuing his impressive run in a rather horrendous series for Pakistan.

“This series definitely will be the breakthrough he [Babar] wanted,” said Azhar. “We were all hopeful that he’ll do it. He’s a good enough player. We all know that. But sometimes if you score in tough conditions against tough bowling attacks, it gives you the extra boost and the belief that you can make even better strides in Test cricket.

“That’s been a big positive now for us that Babar has stamped himself a Test player. He’s been fantastic throughout the year and he’s been lovely to watch and hopefully he can continue this form in the coming Tests.”

Azhar was impressed by some of the positives which included partnerships from the lower order batsmen. Yasir Shah didn’t enjoy a great run with the ball but he went on to score his maiden Test hundred in tough batting conditions.

“Both times we went on to the back foot, the players didn’t give up, regardless of if we’d lost wickets or we’d conceded too many runs. Bowlers kept fighting. Even the batsmen and the tailenders like Yasir never gave up.

“If you want to win Tests, you need to win sessions. We couldn’t do that. But the fact that we kept fighting back is a positive. Naseem Shah made an impressive debut and showed everyone that he can be a great prospect for the future. Musa is the same. We need to give them time to build from it. There can’t be a tougher place to start than here. Now we play at home, and a tough series like this can only help a team get better now that we’re returning home.

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