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Thursday,06-August-2020

International

Will target England’s ‘fragile’ top-order in Tests: Babar Azam

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Talented batsman Babar Azam has insisted he doesn’t want to be compared with Indian skipper Virat Kohli but instead with legendary Pakistan batsmen like Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

“I don’t want to be compared with Virat Kohli. It would be better if people compare me with one of the Pakistani legends like Javed Miandad, Mohammad Yousaf or Younis Khan,” cricket.pakistan.com.pk quoted Babar as saying in a teleconference on Thursday.

Babar averages over 50 in ODI and T20Is and a little over 45 in Tests while Kohli averages over 50 in all the three formats and is counted among the modern-day greats.

The Lahore-born batsman further said that he is eyeing to score a triple hundred in the upcoming three-Test series against England.

Pakistan will take on England in a series involving three Tests and as many T20Is in August and September, after the completion of West Indies’ three-Test series against the ‘The Three Lions’ starting July 8.

“When you score a century, you naturally want to go on and convert that into a double or a triple century. This is something I would like to do during the Test series,” said Pakistan’s limited-overs skipper. “I like to play my natural game but my selection of shots depends on the conditions and bowlers.”

He also exuded confidence of his side winning the Test series against England in their own den.

“We performed well on our previous tour of England which is why players are eagerly looking forward to the series,” Babar said. “We are currently focused on winning the Test series as that is our first goal on the tour.”

“England have the home advantage but our bowlers will give tough time to their batsmen. We will target their fragile Test top-order. Mohammad Abbas is experienced while Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi have a lot of potential. We have high expectations from our bowlers,” he added.

Former speedster Shoaib Akhtar has also urged Pakistan to not settle for a draw but go for victory in their upcoming Test series against England.

Akhtar has advised the Pakistan team to go into the series with a positive frame of mind and belief that they can beat the mighty England team in their own backyard.

“I want to see players’ (COVID-19) test negative but want their mindset to be positive. Pakistan needs to play really good cricket,” Akhtar said in a video uploaded on his YouTube channel.

“I pray to god that Pakistan won’t try to just draw the series there. In the past, we could have won many games in England but I feel the mindset of the batsmen just wasn’t there,” he added.

International

Babar key to Pakistan’s success in England Tests, says Nasser Hussain

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Nasser-Hussain

Former England captain Nasser Hussain has heaped praise on Babar Azam, stating that the Pakistan Test vice-captain will have a huge say in the outcome of the three-Test series .

The first Test of the series will be played at the Ageas Bowl and Hussain stated Pakistan have a good bowling attack like the West Indies, but their better batting line-up makes them a formidable team.

“There’s 17-year-old Naseem Shah, who will push 90 miles per hour, and the tall left-armer Shaheen Afridi, who will get it through,” Hussain wrote in his column for Daily Mail.

“Add the wrist-spin of Yasir Shah and the accuracy of Mohammad Abbas, who has a phenomenal record in England, and that’s a useful line-up.

“Like West Indies they will need to give their bowlers runs to play with, but where they are different is that they have a stronger batting order,” he added.

According to Hussain, Babar is not just consistent but also plays good positive cricket and that is what makes him one of the best in the world. Hussain feels if Babar has a good series, Pakistan will end up to be on the winning side.

“The outstanding member of that line-up is Babar Azam, who has the best average in the world over the past two years,” Hussain wrote further.

“Babar has taken on the responsibility of being Pakistan’s leading batsman now and it is not only his stats that are impressive but the way he bats, because he is very pleasing on the eye.

“He will need to have a good series for Pakistan to win it,” he added.

Pakistan will also take confidence from the fact that they have done well in the last two Test series in the England. The 2018 series ended in a 1-1 draw while the 2016 series also ended with both teams sharing spoils after the conclusion of four-Test series (2-2).

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International

Cool we got them back but disappointed we didn’t win: Steve Smith on 2019 Ashes

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Australian-cricket-captain-Steve-Smith

Australia batsman Steve Smith feels that his team have unfinished business in England from their last Ashes tour. Australia retained the Ashes for the first time since 2001 but the series itself was a draw with the visitors losing the last Test.

“To know that we’d got the Ashes back was pretty special,” he told The Unplayable Podcast’s Ashes Revisited special.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t win them which is something I’d still like to do.

“It just doesn’t feel the same … you get to the end of the series and we’re there holding up the Ashes but we’d just lost the last Test match, and we actually hadn’t won anything.

“It was cool to get them back, but I was actually more disappointed that we hadn’t won them.”

Smith was the player that most commentators said was the difference between the two sides.

Playing his first Test series since the 2018 ball tampering scandal led to him getting a one-year ban and losing the captaincy, Smith scored a mind numbing 774 runs at an average of 110.57 from four Tests played.

It was an Ashes series aggregate in the UK surpassed only by Don Bradman (974 at 139.14 from five Tests in 1930) and Mark Taylor (839 at 83.9 from six in 1989).

Smith however said that he left The Oval after the final Test with conflicting emotions. “From my personal perspective, I think it’s unfinished business. It’s great to retain the Ashes but it just doesn’t sit right with me when you don’t win it,” he said.

“We drew the series — good, but not great. So I probably left at the end of the fifth Test (feeling) more disappointed than a sense of achievement.”

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We now only have a few real fast bowlers around the world: Shoaib Akhtar

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Shoaib-Akhtar

Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar feels pacers of today do not bowl fast anymore as the laws of the game and the rigours of it don’t provide that space.

Shoaib was the first bowler to break the 100mph mark. He retired in 2011 having taken 444 international wickets across the three formats.

“Ten years ago, bowlers would bowl 155kph (96.3mph) and now they’re all of a sudden bowling 135km/h (83.9mph). We now only have a few real fast bowlers around the world. Back in the day, South Africa alone had six.

“The cricket laws don’t allow you to bowl fast now: two new balls, too much restriction, too much cricket, too many Twenty20 leagues, too much money, too many TV rights,” Shoaib told BBC’s TMS commentator Isa Guha and Aatif Nawaz on the BBC’s Doosra podcast.

“Players are now getting smarter and more focused on money; they want to save their careers and legs and play for 10 years — whereas I would fight for that specific series only, I fought for the day.

“The laws were more relaxed back then. When they banned us from bowling more than two bouncers I was gutted. I was like: “How do you trap the batsman? Where is the bodyline bowling?

“Please allow me to hit the guy and let him hit me back. This is what you want to see in international cricket. I’m sick of seeing this lame, prim and proper cricket,” said the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ who made history by becoming the first bowler to officially bowl at 100mph during the 2003 World Cup.

“Breaking the 100mph barrier wasn’t a big deal to me. It was just media hype, an international cricket gimmick. I wasn’t getting paid for this — to break my bones trying to bowl that fast,” said Shoaib.

“I just thought: “For heaven’s sake, I need to finish this and just do it.” So I planned it all out, I started training for it.

“I ran with 170kg weights on my back, taking 20kg off after every 100 metre sprint. I also used to bowl from 26 yards with something much heavier than a cricket ball. When I came back to the 22 yards, I was about 6km/h (3.7mph) quicker.

“I planned to bowl it against Nick Knight. I said to him: “I’m going to hurt you, so make sure you stay out of the way.’ I told him I’d bowl 100mph in that over, on that exact ball,” he added, throwing light to his preparation.

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