Azhar Ali too old to learn from his mistakes
It seems that all efforts of Pakistan Cricket Board to send the squad to England one month prior to the Test series went all in vain as still Pakistani batsmen are unable to adjust with the weather conditions and bounce of the English wickets. Except for Shan Masood, not even a single batsman was able to dominate the English bowlers in the first two matches of the series. Though Shan Masood started with a century full of chances but later he once again came back on his routine of gifting wicket without any resistance.
Three years have passed yet people still remember the batting duo of Younus Khan and Misbahul Haq. Both the players had a special fighting spirit and ability to resist the bowling in any conditions. They would change their technique according to the playing conditions. Once I asked former Chief Selector and Coach Mohsin Hassan Khan that how he used to coach the batsmen to adjust according to the different playing conditions. His answer was interesting. He said, “Misbah was a great help for the youngsters. I always instructed the youngsters, whenever they get the opportunity to have a partnership with Misbah just watch him closely how he moulded himself according to the changing conditions.” On the other hand, Younus Khan is the greatest Test player of Pakistan history with 34 centuries. He always was a great help to the youngsters.
Now the seniors are not performing up to the expectations. Azhar Ali is once again a disaster in away series. After playing almost ten years of international cricket, the captain of Pakistan Test team is still trying to adjust to the bounce and pace of the English wickets. Since May 2017, Azhar Ali has played 10 Test matches in away series and he has not been able to reach magical three figures. In last 19 innings in away matches, he has scored just one fifty and that was against England back in 2018. In 19 innings, Azhar Ali has been able to score just 232 runs with an average of just 12.2. He is considered to be a failure on bouncy wickets and seeming conditions. Pundits are critical about his batting style which is still best suitable for the UAE wickets and conditions.
Asad Shafiq is also no exception. In the first two Test matches of this away tour, Asad Shafiq has scored just 41 runs in three innings with the dismal average of 13.66. It was hoped that after Younus and Misbah, Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq would share the burden of the batting. But the situation is quite different here. It seems that every batsman is relying on the performance of Babar Azam, who has been the pick of the Pakistani batting during the last three years. Right now Babar Azam is the only batsman in the world who is in the top five rankings of Test, One day and T20 cricket.
Abid Ali is also finding it difficult to adjust to English conditions. In the three innings, he played in this tour Abid has been able to score 96 runs with the average of 32. Though, somehow, it seems satisfactory, but still it was because of the generous behaviour of the English fielders who dropped a number of catches in his last innings where he managed to score 60 runs. Fawad Alam was also unlucky by losing his wicket without scoring on a tricky referral against him.
Now the debate is on that should Pakistani team continue with Azhar Ali as a captain and a player. As a player, he is not justifying his place in the team, especially in the away series. Or Pakistan should come up with a new idea of a different captain for home and away Test series, as in home series Azhar roars like a lion. Asad Shafiq is also a senior player now and he should feel it as well. Test matches cannot be won only on the performance of Babar Azam. It is also being discussed in Pakistan that if Azhar Ali continues with this performance, then Pakistani authorities should switch for some youngster. At least he would learn from these important series if not performs amicably. Azhar Ali has already passed that time where a player could learn from his mistakes. Now Azhar Ali is too old to learn from his mistakes.
Now Pakistan is once again facing the English team in Southampton with the same team which faced England in the second test match. Only miraculous performances from these seniors can save the series for Pakistan and their places in the team.