SA v PAK 2018-19: Azhar Ali hoping to shine in Johannesburg Test

Azhar Ali's current form in South Africa puts him under the scanner.

Azhar Ali has managed just 44 runs from the two Tests in South Africa | Getty Images

Pakistan middle-order batsman Azhar Ali is hoping to get back his tempo in the third and final Test against South Africa being played in Johannesburg after his poor show in the first two Tests of the ongoing series here.

The right-hander said that he felt very good in the nets and even in the tour match that Pakistan won, but he could not transfer this form in the Test series against the Proteas side.

The 33-year-old is one of the two specialist batsmen – the other being Fakhar Zaman, who have failed to score here, as his score in the series reads 2, 6, 36 and 0 in his four outings here.

Eventually the Men in Green lost both first two Tests and series as well to the hosts. However, Azhar is confident that if he gets a good start in the final Test, then he can convert it into a big score in Johannesburg.

He was in good form with the willow in Pakistan’s last Test series against New Zealand in the UAE, where the batsman scored one century, but his current form in South Africa puts him under the scanner.

Azhar told reporters at the pre-match press conference on Thursday, “Since the last few years I have felt the best when I was batting in the nets. I had a decent series against New Zealand and was in good confidence coming into this series. I felt very good in the nets and during the side game. But, unfortunately, I haven't performed in the Tests.”

He continued, “I still have one Test and hope that I can convert that good touch into something in the middle. Because no matter how good you feel in the nets, it is important to transfer that in the middle. I am confident that if I get a good start I can convert it into a big score.”

Meanwhile, his ability to play short balls is also under a scanner, as he was bounced out by Duanne Olivier in his first three innings in the ongoing Africa series, and Ali said: “I knew we were going to get pace and bounce. But, even the South African batsmen would say that the bounce has not been even.”

Ali signed off by saying, “Cracks were there, but it was for both teams. Maybe we should have done well and we had the opportunities. But, the South African bowlers bowled very well. All of the bowlers bowled at 140kph plus, apart from [Vernon] Philander, but he is very accurate.”

(With International Cricket Council Inputs)



By Rashmi Nanda - 11 Jan, 2019

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