Australian fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle will be targetting Azhar Ali, as the key wicket against Pakistan during the upcoming two-match Test series in UAE.
Azhar, who has been magnificent for Pakistan across all conditions, has done well against Australia too. His last series versus the visitors down under saw him made scores of 5, 71, 205*, 43, 71 and 11 across three Test matches and the 33-year-old finished off as the second highest run-getter, behind only to Steve Smith.
"They've got a quality batting line-up, and on some really flat wickets their whole middle order's going to be a really good battle," said Starc to cricket.com.au, before stressing on the importance of Azhar, who has scored at an average of 69.75 against Australia with three tons, "I think someone like Azhar Ali, who scored a fair few runs against us in Australia last time they were here, he'd be a big one at the top of the order for them."
"He can bat long periods of time, he's not too fazed about being tied down. So I think if we can get him early and get their middle order in against a newer, harder ball, then that's a good starting point." he added.
Siddle, who is making a comeback into the side after a while, also talked about Azhar and said, "The key wicket for them is always going to be Azhar Ali, He's one of the leaders in that side now. From the last tour when we went over there, they had the stars and the old heads of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq to lead them, they're probably a little bit less experienced now, which is good news for us, but they've still got a lot of class players."
"We saw that on the last tour (to Australia) – they had a lot of young guys that stood up and performed well for them." he further added, "So I think (Azhar) is going to be the big wicket, but in that time these young guys have come about, and they play some exciting cricket, so we've got to be on our toes and prepared."
"But like I said, they are a little bit less experienced this time around, so if there's ever an opportunity to beat them away from home, it's definitely this time around," and signed off.
Dubai will host the first Test between Pakistan and Australia from October 7, while the second Test will be played in Abu Dhabi from October 16.