Azhar will open in England, reveals Sarfraz

Skipper says slot as right-hander’s opening partner still up for grabs

Saleem Khaliq April 09, 2018
Caption Backbone: Sarfraz praised Azhar Ali and said he has been the backbone of the side for the past few years. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Test captain Sarfraz Ahmed has said that former ODI skipper Azhar Ali is being considered as one of the openers for the upcoming two-Test series against England.

“We have just announced the players for the skills camp,” said Sarfraz. “We will try to send Azhar as the opener. He is somebody who has opened in England before and is an experienced player who has been the backbone of the Test side with his performances for the last four-five years. We will most likely experiment with Azhar as an opener.”

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Sarfraz also revealed that the trio of Sami Aslam, Shan Masood and Fakhar Zaman are fighting it out for the remaining two opening slots in the squad.

“We will be looking to take at least three possible opening combinations with us so that means we will have three openers,” he said. “There is Shan, Sami and Fakhar has just been inducted into the squad. We will be consulting to see who we take with us.”

‘Lord’s is a special ground’

The 30-year-old Sarfraz touched upon the historic Lord’s Cricket Ground, which is set to host the first Test of the series May 24.

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“It was a special feeling walking out onto the Lord’s pitch for the first time,” he said. “It felt great to walk onto the ground that we had seen on TV for so long. I remember the 1999 World Cup and the Pakistan team in its balcony and I used to wonder why everyone talked about this ground so much. It was only when we went there that I understood that yes it is indeed special. I haven’t scored a Test century there but I scored one in a one day and it’s true that the ground has a special feeling to it.”

‘Trying to calm myself down’

The wicketkeeper batsman started laughing when asked about the criticism he has faced regarding his overly critical approach towards the players.

“Every player and captain wants to win,” said Sarfraz. “I get angry when I see the players deviating from our plan or when they aren’t putting in enough effort. Our players are very good and I want them to keep on performing at this level.”

He also revealed that he is trying to keep his emotions in check better. “I am learning on the job and will hopefully get better with time,” he said. “I am trying to keep myself calm on the field and be more in control of my emotions.”

‘PSL getting better every year’

The Quetta Gladiator skipper also hailed the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and said its quality means that he doesn’t feel any sadness regarding Pakistani players’ non-participation in the Indian Premier League.

“No there is no sadness regarding that,” he said. “The kind of league we now have means we don’t need to rely on anyone anymore. The kind of cricket we have seen this year in my opinion is the highest in terms of quality of bowling that league cricket across the world has ever produced. We are getting better and better with every passing year. PSL1 was good but PSL2 was better and PSL3 has been even better than that.”

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Mazhar Hussain | 2 years ago | Reply | Recommend Tried openers Sami Aslam and Shah Masood shouldn't have even shortlisted in the probable list of players for upcoming test matches in England and Ireland due to their lackluster performance against an easy Sirilankan team on flat tracks of UAE. Fakkar Zaman should have the automatic choice as opening partner of Azhar Ali.
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