Azhar Ali backs Pak-India series for raising funds in virus fight

By: Raheel Hanif      Published: 03:40 PM, 9 Apr, 2020
Azhar Ali backs Pak-India series for raising funds in virus fight

Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali has supported the idea to hold a Pakistan, India series to raise funds to fight the coronavirus.

Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar, on Wednesday, had proposed a three-match ODI series against arch-rival India to raise funds for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in both the countries.

Expressing views via the PCB video link, Azhar Ali announced support for Pakistan-India bilateral series amidst the coronavirus lockdown as well as other international cricket.

Azhar also called for the final of the ICC Test Championship to be postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has halted sporting activities globally.

The final of the championship is scheduled for June 2021 but the ongoing health crisis has ravaged the international calendar and rendered any Test series impossible.

"There is no harm in delaying the final until all teams complete their Test championship cycle," said Azhar in an online media session. "I am sure the final will be held only after all the teams get their due share of matches."

The pandemic has seen Pakistan delay its second Test against Bangladesh while its tour of England is also in the limbo. Furthermore, England’s tour to South Africa has already been called off.

Azhar also supported the idea of playing cricket behind closed doors, saying that it would be good for cricket-starved fans.  "Fans aren’t getting any action even on TV now so if cricket is played behind closed doors, it will provide fans an opportunity to watch some cricket," he said.

When questioned over his "defensive" style of captaincy, the 35-year-old shrugged off the tag and said that his performance will change that perception. "You lead the team according to the situation and according to resources available to you. You can’t place four slips in Dubai conditions. To call me defensive captain is a wrong perception, and I will try to change this mindset with my performance."

Besides this, Azhar expressed relief over Misbah's dual role as chief selector and head coach, saying that it also makes the captain's job easier. "If I need any player in the squad, it is easier for me to convince one person instead of going to head coach and chief selector separately," he said.

He then revealed his plans of changing the dressing room culture along with players’ mindset, stating that he wants his charges to take an optimistic approach in a high-pressure situation. "My aim is to make the team fearless. We usually see that the team gets tensed when they’re under pressure but I want to change that," Azhar said.

On bowling coach Waqar, and how he is different from Misbah as a coach, he said: "I discuss things with him (Waqar) regarding bowling. Misbah is calmer. That's his way of working, he is cool. Waqar used to do it in a different way. Both are big names in Pakistan cricket. Waqar bhai is a legend."

Azhar said his knee injury was a reason behind his dip in form and also a factor behind him deciding not to play white-ball cricket for Pakistan and focus only on Tests.

"Knee injury has hampered my form and I was at my peak when it happened. We had won the Champions Trophy. Those 6-8 months did disturb me. Injury is a phase and that needs to be dealt with. I am working hard to get back to form," said the 35-year old.

Azhar said he missed for not being part of the Pakistan Super League action this season.

He said talented cricketers emerged in this year’s PSL just like the previous seasons but players cannot be picked up for longer format based on Twenty20 performance.

He urged all to take precautionary measures to counter novel coronavirus while admitting that it is difficult for players to remain at home.