Azhar Ali Praises Of The Story Of Babar, The Break With The Series Bat > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Azhar Ali lauds Babar after breakthrough series with bat

That Babar has stamped himself a Test player is a big positive - Azhar Ali

Since Mushtaq Ahmed ran through the heart of Australia's batting order on a turning wicket at the SCG in 1995-96 to script a famous win, Pakistan have slipped from one loss after another in Tests Down Under. Unfortunately for the Asian nation, the just-concluded two-Test series in Australia didn't offer any upswings in fortunes, as they lost both matches at the Gabba and Adelaide by an innings and were clean-swept.

However, amidst the doom and gloom, Pakistan camp would be pleased that they have found a skilful batsman who looks set to serve the country for a long time to come. Babar Azam, the 25-year-old, has also already shone brightly in the limited overs formats. However, his performances in the longest format of the game have been patchy. However, Babar lived up to his burgeoning reputation in the two Tests, cracking a brilliant ton on arguably the quickest track going around in the cricketing landscape, the Gabba. And followed it up with a sublime 97 in the pink ball Test in Adelaide.

Azhar Ali, the Pakistan skipper, lauded Babar's ability to handle the likes of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc to deliver under pressure.

"He's been tremendous in white-ball cricket and in the recent past, he's been gradually building up his Test stats as well," Azhar said of Azam. "But this series definitely will be the breakthrough he wanted. We were all hopeful that he'll do it. He's a good enough player. We all know that. But sometimes if you score in tough conditions against tough bowling attacks, it gives you the extra boost and the belief that you can make even better strides in Test cricket.

"That's been a big positive now for us that Babar has stamped himself a Test player. He's been fantastic throughout the year and he's been lovely to watch and hopefully he can continue this form in the Tests that are coming."

Mohammad Rizwan, the wicketkeeper-batsman, who replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed, also made an impact, ending up with 177 runs in the series. Rizwan, who came into the limelight with his maiden first-class ton against Karachi Whites in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in 2011, also has a fine first-class record averaging over 43.

"He's been performing in first-class cricket for a few years now. And then he had a fantastic couple of 'A' tours in Dubai. And then he played against Australia in one-day cricket and scored centuries there as well," Azhar pointed out. "He's been waiting and obviously Sarfaraz [Ahmed] is another one who'd been performing really well for Pakistan. We have a very healthy competition.

"Rizwan waited for his chance and then grabbed it with both hands. The way he batted at Gabba and the way he kept wickets in both games has been fantastic. His energy is always good for the team, whenever we were down in the field, he kept us up. That's fantastic for any team. He's a team man."

Unfortunately, Pakistan's inexperienced pace attack just couldn't adapt to the different conditions on view. On Australian tracks, visiting pacers have found it difficult to succeed, especially in the last two decades. Australian pitches generally demand fast bowlers to hit around the good length or back of a length area consistently.

The young tearaways like Naseem Shah and Muhammad Musa just struggled to control. Mohammad Abbas, who was picked for the second Test, largely looked innocuous. Shaheen Afridi was the only bright spot in the pace department. The tall pacer consistently extracted seam movement in the Adelaide Test, and was the lone successful bowler in the first innings of the match. Yasir Shah, the experienced legspinner, also leaked runs.

Azhar noted that Pakistan have a young team, and stressed the importance of scheduling more 'A' tours to Australia, so that the cricketers coming through the ranks could get to play in different conditions.

"It has been a disappointing series. We didn't live up to the expectations that were based around this young team. This was the best possible team we could have picked, especially with regards to the bowling options. But you also have to see that in Australia you need a certain kind of pace attack. And in our domestic cricket, we don't have those kind of pacers. The moment you have to bowl with a Kookaburra, you need an extra element of pace.

"But we felt that these guys were in the best shape to deal with the conditions here, and that'll be the case in the future. We shouldn't get too disappointed about this and keep in mind that young bowlers like these will only play more cricket and get better. We need to show some patience.

"I think, most importantly, 'A' team tours and Under-19 tours are very important. Players who come here more often and play in these conditions will benefit from that. Last time and this time, we came here a couple of weeks before the Tests. It gives you a better idea and preparation. You have to consider that always. There won't be any condition like this in Pakistan. The surfaces are different. It's the same when Pakistan go to Dubai or Pakistan. They've played on hard surfaces and need to adapt to the slower wickets there."

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