Azhar Ali: Everyone has to chip in

Pakistan opener Azhar Ali believes that the Test team cannot rely only on its experienced campaigners when they face England.

The two Test series against England will be Pakistan’s first series in the United Kingdom since the retirement of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan leaving Azhar and fellow veteran Asad Shafiq to shoulder the burden of leading the batting.

Azhar feels that while he has a big role to play the young batsmen around him will also need to chip in.

The former skipper told ESPN Cricinfo: “It’s a responsibility definitely, but it’s a team game, and everybody has to chip in.

“Obviously as a senior player I have to make sure I play my part. And I will try to do whatever I can to build a platform and make sure we have enough runs on the board to help our bowlers.

“It’s never easy to play in England. Whenever you come, it’s always challenging. The English bowling attack is good as well. We are respectful of that. We know there are big challenges ahead but we are prepared to do our best. It’s a big opportunity for everyone. If we do well here – especially with the youngsters as well, if they do well – things will get easier then.”

Azhar is grateful for the warm-up games afforded the team ahead of the first Test against England, the opener notched his first half century of the tour in the match against Leicestershire at Grace Road.

He said: “We came, and we got some practice games also, a Test match against Ireland – it was a very good game also. We’ve had very good preparation and we are hoping that we can transfer that preparation into the big games against England.”

Azhar dropped a big selection hint indicating that Pakistan will go into the match with five bowlers meaning Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf are likely to retain their places from the XI that faced Ireland while the fifth bowler will be either left-armer Rahat Ali or Champions Trophy hero Hasan Ali.

The opener said: “We want to play attacking cricket, we want to take 20 wickets. That’s why we are going with five bowlers. Hopefully this side will do well for us.”

The first Test between England and Pakistan gets underway on Thursday 24 May at Lord’s.