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Azhar Ali promises to live up to his responsibilities as captain
Pakistan News

Azhar Ali promises to live up to his responsibilities as captain

Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali has admitted to being dissatisfied with his batting performances of late and vowed to execute his leadership responsibilities more astutely in the Test series against England.

Azhar, who was promoted to the captaincy role following the sacking of Sarfaraz Ahmed last year, has done fairly well in the warm-up games leading up to the series opener but his overall form in the past two years has been under scrutiny.

The veteran top-order batsman was primed to shoulder the team's batting burden alongside senior player Asad Shafiq following the retirement of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan in 2017.

However, the two have contributed two centuries each in 18 Tests since then with their on-field struggles attracting the ire of fans.

"I've not performed consistently and as a top-order batsman and I'm not happy about it," Azhar told reporters on the eve of the first Test at Old Trafford. "I've worked hard throughout for that and will continue to do," he added.

Meanwhile, Azhar affirmed his confidence in Babar Azam's batting excellence and felt the 25-year-old star would experience another stellar run across the England contests.

Babar's career numbers have improved exponentially in the last two years, suggesting that he is swiftly approaching the esteemed group of modern-day greats.

All of his five Test hundreds have come since the start of 2018, during which time he averages an astonishing 65.47 signifying profound control over his red-ball game.

When asked about Babar's comparisons with the likes of Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, Azhar said the right-hander was "right up there already".

Also Read: 'Babar Azam is as good as any batsman in the world' - Azhar Ali

"People are thinking and talking about it. He is just hungry for runs and I think if he keeps doing that he will be up there for quite a long time," he said.

"His performances have improved massively in Test matches over the last year or so. Firstly, he was performing really well in white-ball cricket and people thought he was only a white-ball player but he took on that challenge and played with a lot of freedom and flair."

Despite Babar's glorious form maintained over an extended time period, Azhar is keen to not pile too much pressure on the ace player.

"He is a very important player for us but I would like him to be free from any pressure and just enjoy his game."

On the other hand, Pakistan's bowling attack is short of experience with the pace duo of Naseem Shah (17) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (20) collectively younger than England's leading Test wicket-taker James Anderson (38).

Azhar negated all doubts regarding the young bowlers' credentials and said they had the potential to outsmart their opponents.

"They are very talented, obviously not as experienced as some of the bowling attacks that have come to England in the past, but potentially they are right up there."

"Naseem is a young talent who came up and played Test cricket from nowhere.

"He's impressed all of us and is in our number one bowling attack.... Over time he will get the experience he needs.

"In terms of his potential, he is very threatening and hopefully he will be very good for us in this series."