Pakistan can counter England threat, says Younus Khan

Batting legend says trio of Azhar, Shafiq, Sarfraz will be able to cope with pressure


Sports Desk May 22, 2018
ALTERNATE OPTIONS: Younus believes Pakistani batsmen have the ability to survive and thrive in difficult English conditions, but feels the team may need back-up. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan batting veteran Younus Khan feels Sarfraz Ahmed and co are well-placed to counter the challenge posed by England in the upcoming two-Test series.

Younus, who is the only Pakistan player to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket, placed his faith in the abilities of batsmen to survive and thrive in the stiff English conditions, but also feels the team should have some back-up options.

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“I think Azhar Ali is in good form but Asad Shafiq needs to lift his game,” said Younus in a video interview with ESPNcricinfo. “Pakistan might need back-up options for Shafiq. Along with those two, Pakistan have Safraz as well, who is a good leader and the trio will be able to cope with the pressure.”

The former skipper, who was part of the side that drew the four-Test series 2-2 against England back in 2016, remained fairly confident about Pakistan’s chances and hoped that the series will be a competitive one.

“People have a lot of concerns about this but I think they [Pakistan team] will be okay,” he said. “The series will be a nice one as the team is in good shape and will be able to handle the conditions.”

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Younus was also not too worried about right-handed batsman Babar Azam’s poor form in the longest format of the game and backed him to come good in the series, even though he has only scored 548 runs in 12 matches at an average of just 24.9.

“As Babar [Azam] is growing up, he will perform better in every format; not only in ODIs and T20Is,” said Younus.

Pakistan have prepared for the England Test with a month-long camp in England before playing a one-off Test against Ireland.

The Men in Green came out on top against the Irish history makers, who were playing their first-ever Test, with five wickets to spare, but questions were raised after a top-order collapse at the start of day five.

Pakistan have also played three tour matches — two four-day and one two-day affair — during their visit of Ireland and England.

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The first Test between England and Pakistan is scheduled to start at Lord’s from May 24.

Both teams will then travel to Leeds to play the second Test at Headingley.

The England Tests will be followed by two T20Is against Scotland on June 12 and 13.

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