Azhar Ali, who was passed the baton unenthusiastically by Sarfaraz Ahmed last month, would be feeling good before the stern test against the Ashes winners, Australia. The new captain is buoyant after an impressive performance in the tour game against Australia A.
Azhar, who will be calling the shots for the first time as skipper, felt the tour games are helping the team get accustomed to the conditions and mentioned about previous touring parties not having such well organized conducive preparatory matches.
"After a long time, we got a proper side game; Australia A had established first-class players and they had many regular players who have represented Australia," said Azhar.
"Their [Australia A] bowling attack was good and the pitch was perfect for preparation."
Babar Azam - the run machine - scored a whopping 157* and Asad Shafiq warmed up to the task with a composed 119*. Both batsmen got retired out to let the other batsmen spend some time in the middle.
Shan Masood and Iftikhar Ahmed thumped half-centuries while Azhar, whose own performance of late has been under the scanner, got pinned LBW on a scorching delivery from Michael Neser. He does have a terrific overall record in Tests - 5669 runs in 73 Tests at an average of 43.
"The batting performance is satisfying. Babar and Asad batted superbly. In second innings, Shan and Iftikhar scored a lot of runs in trying conditions - which is a positive sign for us," Azhar added.
Imran Khan made a roaring comeback with an incredible spell with the new ball which might have brewed a selection conundrum for Misbah-ul-Haq. Imran was the main culprit behind Australia A batting collapse.
Furthermore, Naseem Shah darted a barrage of teasing deliveries in the second innings for eight probing overs and that audition has most definitely confirmed his place in the final XI that will jostle for ascendency in the two Tests.
"It was a feat to get their batsmen out on 122 in first innings and it wasn't a weak batting side so that's a good sign.
"Naseem Shah has to deal with a massive loss and was mourning but he still came out to bowl and he bowled really well.
"Iftikhar is in great form and he is batting really well since his comeback, it was hard to ignore him for selection. I hope he makes good use of his form in the Test series.
Azhar realizes it will be a tough ask to bamboozle the likes of Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, and David Warner who will join Australia to bolster the batting resources in the all-important clash - which will also mark the beginning of Pakistan's World Test Championship campaign.
"I am optimistic that my bowlers will bowl really well and take wickets and win us matches. You can't win a Test match by [not having the ability to] bowl out a side twice. The challenge will be tougher in the Test series but I am hopeful players will raise their game," remarked Azhar.
The soft-spoken middle-order batsman, who will wear the captain's armband for the very first in the longer format, sounded pretty confident when he reiterated his faith in his team and the motivation in the dugout to conquer the insurmountable - win a series in the shores of Australia for the first time.
"Everybody is excited and our biggest motivation is to make history by defeating Australia in their home. We have the ability, talent, potential to beat Australia. We want to record our names in the history books and we definitely have the capability to do that," beamed Azhar.