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Looking to better our encouraging performance in England: Azhar Ali

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The conditions in England are a challenge for touring teams but visitors Pakistan have not lost a series in England in last five years even when others have been comprehensively routed.

Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali, speaking on the eve of Pakistan team’s departure for England, said he was looking to repeat and better his teams encouraging performances in England over the years.

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A Pakistan contingent comprising 20 players and 11 player support personnel is set travel on a chartered flight to Manchester on Sunday morning for a Three-Test and three T20I series to be played in August.

Azhar Ali expressed his and his teams joy as the wait is over and a ‘hungry to play cricket’ Pakistan team is finally travelling to England.

“It’s a moment of joy, especially for we players. After all the wait, we are finally traveling to England. Despite all the challenges before the tour thankfully cricket is resuming.

“Players are excited and hungry to play cricket. All the players are excited for the England tour,” Azhar Ali said.

Pakistan have always performed well in England

Pakistan have drawn their Test series in England on their tours in 2016 and 2018 and even won the 2018 ICC Champions Trophy held in England.

Acknowledging the challenges that the England tour presents, the Pakistan Test Captain highlighted that the Pakistan team has always performed well in the British Isles and expressed his desire to repeat the team’s good performance on 2016 and 2018 tours.

“Although, the England tour is challenging, our performances in the past have been encouraging. We not only wish to repeat them but also better them this time around.

“Our 2016, 2018 tour were good, we won the 2018 champions trophy in England, even in 2019 World cup despite not making it to the semis still we played well.

“I think, for us, England has always been a country where we have performed well and have also delivered remarkable performances. We will try to repeat them,” Azhar Ali said.

Playing in empty stadiums advantage for Pakistan

When asked about playing in empty stadiums and its impact on teams performance, Ali reminded how the Pakistani team has been playing the home series for over ten years in Dubai amidst low crowd turnout.

“When it comes to playing without spectators, for 10 years we have played our home series in Dubai, where only a handful of people turned up to watch out matches.”

He went on to claim that as Pakistan players are habituated to playing in emptying stadiums, it would be an advantage for his team.

“We are used to it. Even our domestic tournaments are played almost without any spectators. So, we are habituated to playing in empty stadiums. It an advantage for us,” Azhar Ali said.

Pakistan has fared well against experienced England attack

England team has a very experienced bowling attack with the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Sam Curron, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer.

When asked how does the Pakistan captain see his teams batting and bowling fare against the English bowling attack, he said he was relying on skillful bowlers to  to challenge the “still settling” England batting line-up.

“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.

“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,” said Azhar Ali on saturday June 27.

He further pointed how his team has won games against the very experienced England attack.

“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,” Azhar Ali added.

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