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Pakistan bowlers can expose England’s ‘fragile’ top-order, feels Azhar Ali

Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali believes that his side can outclass England at their own backyard in the upcoming three-match Test series if his bowlers manage to expose the ‘fragile’ England batting line-up, especially the top order.

“Their top order has been quite fragile for a while since Alastair Cook retired. They’ve tried a few combinations and only now it’s just settling down; they weren’t very confident of their top order. Their Test team is in the process of settling down still,” Azhar said on Saturday (June 27) prior to his team’s departure for the United Kingdom.

He further went on to highlight the strengths of the Pakistan side, especially in the bowling department.

“In our team, the way that our fast bowlers have improved [is commendable] … how Shaheen has bowled, any team will look up to him. Naseem Shah has bowled with great pace. Abbas’s experience… we have youngsters too who have done well, so we have bowling options. But these three, in particular, can cause any batting line-up trouble.”

For the Pakistan skipper, his team’s biggest threat during this series is going to be Jofra Archer. For him the rest of the English bowling attack will be almost same which they faced during the 2016 and 2018 series.

“England has a great bowling line-up no doubt, and in their conditions, they perform very well. But if you take out Jofra Archer from that attack, it’s the same attack that we have faced in the past and won Tests there. Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Woakes, Stokes and even Wood was there then. We won facing them then,” he mentioned.

He further stressed on the fact that his batting line-up need to handle the pressure and try to put ‘300 or more’ runs in each innings. And if they can do that, Pakistan have the bowling attack to make England sweat.

“I think that if our batting can put together totals around 300 or more runs, we have the potential to beat England. On recent tours, we have made strong comebacks and done well there,” Azhar said.

“Our pace bowlers usually sweat a lot and plus the Duke ball has a lot of wax coating so the shine remains for a long time and it can be polished with sweat. The bowlers get natural movement with the Duke ball in English conditions and not being able to use saliva means our bowlers can also try to reverse swing it more,” he added.

He also cleared the air regarding the COVID-19 positive tests of 10 players and one official of his side.

“I think if someone tests positive, it is a surprise and this happened with our players but generally, I think in this lockdown period, the players have kept themselves fit and ready for cricket.”

The skipper then mentioned that the players have no concerns about playing in a bio-secure environment in England or remaining in quarantine and isolation for long periods.

“The West Indies players are already there and they appear to be comfortable and safe and are preparing now for their tests.”

Sandipan Banerjee is a senior cricket journalist with experience stretching across more than a decade. Having founded a number of cricket information resources and prior experience of working in big-ticket events like ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL and ICC Champions’ Trophy; he joined the team at in 2019 to provide strategic guidance and to assume a brand ambassador role as principal correspondent. Due to Sandipan’s commitment towards the game, it’s safe to assume that if India are involved in a Test, ODI or a T20I, he’ll be there covering the match!

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