DateLine: 20th July 2010
Debuts don't come as difficult as Azhar Ali's début at Lords recently. Overcast conditions in the first innings with the ball seaming around and the opposition bowlers snarling and snapping at the Pakistani batsmen ; it certainly wasn't for the faint hearted.
His second knock saw him enter the fray with Pakistan on 50 for 1 chasing a world record fourth innings total of 440 for victory. He couldn't have asked for a more testing and tough introduction to test cricket.
Lesser players would have crumbled under the pressure, however Ali looked like a seasoned veteran at the home of cricket, especially in the second innings. Looking at ease in the middle against the Australians, Azhar Ali was the picture of calmness and assurance. At times it was difficult to believe that the 25 year old was actually making his international début.
Ali's calmness under pressure and innings' of 16 and 42 didn't surprise his captain at KRL, former Pakistan batsman Mohammad Wasim. Speaking to PakPassion.net, Wasim spoke about Ali's strengths and how he firmly believes that Azhar could be a mainstay in the Pakistani batting order in the coming years.
"Azhar's solid temperament is his strength, he's very patient and he focusses on occupying the crease. He's ideally suited for test cricket and knows how to build an innings."
Wasim recalled when he first saw Ali in action ; "He was brought to KRL as a legspinner who could bat a bit. He was 16 or 17 at the time and we brought him to KRL to utilise his bowling. We thought he had enough as a leggie for us to work with and we thought that we could definitely develop his bowling."
Whilst Wasim saw a decline in Azhar's bowling, the improvement in his batting was there for all to see, as Azhar's role in the KRL side changed from a leg spinner who batted at number 8 or 9 to a top order batsman who has performed consistently in domestic cricket.
Wasim who is currently playing league cricket in the Netherlands feels that Azhar could be a regular feature in the coming years for Pakistan.
"Azhar's the best of the lot when it comes to the up and coming younger players in Pakistan. He's very level headed, calm and very patient. He has all the attributes to become a mainstay in the Pakistan test line-up. I hope he's given an extended run in the team, so he can show everyone what he is capable of".
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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