While Pakistan Test skipper Azhar Ali enjoyed a reasonably good series against England with the bat, it was not as much as captain. As captain, Azhar Ali faced his second consecutive away series loss, the first one being against Australia last year.
Despite heavy criticism, the veteran batsman asserted he never thought of giving up the captaincy. Azhar Ali’s tactics came under scrutiny, especially when the visitors lost the first Test after gaining the upper hand.
Pakistan bowlers reduced England to 117-5 while defending 277. Despite that, they remained unsuccessful in containing Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes, whose 139-run stand was significant in England’s win by three wickets.
Ali’s strategies came under the scanner even during the partnership of 359 between Zak Crawley and Buttler in the third Test as England amassed 583. The 35-year old had scores of 0, 18, and 20 before scoring a hundred in the first innings of the final Test.
The hosts won the three-game series by 1-0. Azhar Ali conceded that despite feeling the pressure, he remained focussed on the series and his performances. The right-handed batsman added that after their defeat in Manchester, he had to cop up the criticism. But Ali promised to turn the tables with his bat and had faith in their coaching staff.
“No, I remained focussed on this series. This consideration never entered my mind. Yes there was pressure but I was focussed on my performances. After we lost the first Test, as captain I had to bear the pressure and criticism.
“But I vowed to turn it around with my performances and the amount of experience we had in our team management also helped us get over the first test defeat and move on,” Ali stated as quoted by Hindustan Times.
Azhar Ali backs Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq despite their poor show:
The skipper threw his weight Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq, who had underwhelming with the bat by their standards. Azhar Ali said that when a player has runs under their belt, they have that comfort level and it is challenging to mould their techniques if the bowler has worked out. He recalled facing problems in England and it was fine after making changes to the stance.
“When a player has runs under his belt he has a comfort level, but when the opposition has worked on you, it not easy to make changes to your technique in a series. In 2016 also I faced problems in England. But I modified my stance and it worked for me,” Azhar conceded.
While the 35-year-old acknowledged that Asad Shafiq did not have a productive series, they will back him since he enjoyed a couple of good ones before that. As for Babar, Ali lauded him for batting with authority; however, admitted the need to be realistic with their expectations. Babar scored two fifties in the series while Shafiq averaged an awful 13.67 in three Tests.
“Asad didn’t have a good series but we will continue to back him as he had two good series previous to coming to England. Babar batted with authority in the series and I think you can’t expect a batsman to score big runs all the time. Sometimes you need patience but he is an example for us,” the 81-Test veteran added.