Pakistan’s former cricketer, Shoaib Mohammad has come out in defense of Azhar Ali and said that it is unfair to criticize just one batsman as the whole team failed to deliver the goods in the first Test at Johannesburg against one of the finest bowling attacks of the world.
Azhar has been a permanent member of the Test team since making his debut during the controversial tour of England in 2010. The right –handed batsman has performed consistently well over the last couple of years and was recently awarded as the Test batsman of the year (2012) by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
However, Azhar is struggling to deliver the goods in the on-going tour of South Africa. Apart from struggling in the Johannesburg Test, the top-order batsman has so far failed to make an impression in the tour matches as well.
The Green Shirts were bowled out for just 49 runs in their first innings; therefore, Shoaib feels that it is unfair to put the blame on Azhar only. With the second Test scheduled to begin today at Cape Town, the former cricketer believes that having played a practice match in the city will help the national team.
“None of our batsmen played with confidence. So it is unfair to point out Azhar Ali. Though the 2-day match was played on a different ground, yet the characteristic of the soil is the same,” he said. “Newlands is arguably the most beautiful ground in the world. Due to the Table Mountain, the breeze blows and aids swing.”
The former opening batsman further added that the only way to succeed against Dale Steyn and company is to play aggressively and urged the batsmen to improve their back-foot shots, in order to cope with additional bounce that is on offer on the South African pitches.
“You have to play your shots against South Africa. There is no way of escaping after scoring 150 runs in an entire day. Due to the bouncy nature of the pitches in South Africa, one has to be very good on cut and pull shots,” Shoaib added.