Mohammad Akram hails Babar Azam’s resilience in alien conditions

KARACHI: Pakistan posted a respectable total on the third day of the second Test against New Zealand at Hamilton’s Seddon Park largely due to an unbeaten 90-run innings by young batsman Babar Azam.

Resuming at the overnight score of 76 for five, Azam held one end together as Sarfraz Ahmed (41) and Sohail Khan (37) went for their shots to ensure that the visitors maintain a decent run-rate after the top and middle-order had limply rolled over on the second day.

Pakistan were eventually bowled out for 216, 55 runs behind New Zealand’s first innings score of 271 as Azam remained stranded on one end.

 

Speaking to The Express Tribune, former Test cricketer and bowling coach Mohammad Akram praised Azam for his stupendous effort in alien conditions. “Azam has come through the ranks and has shown great maturity. I have seen him score big in first-class matches and this innings proved that even outside Asia he’s good enough.”

Akram, meanwhile, refused to blame the other batsmen for their follies on the tour stating that lack of exposure to fast-bowling-friendly pitches was the primary reason for the disastrous batting witnessed in the first three innings of the series.

Akram, who represented Pakistan in nine Tests and 23 ODIs, stressed the need for ‘A’ team tours to countries where the batsmen are tested rather than tours to Asian venues.

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“We can’t criticise the batsmen; they haven’t had the exposure to these conditions. We need to send ‘A’ teams to the difficult parts of the world like Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa rather than touring places like UAE or Sri Lanka,” he said.

Bowlers need to capitalise on favourable conditions

Akram lamented the effort of Pakistan’s bowling attack on the opening two days of the match as, despite inclement weather and overcast conditions, the bowling quartet of Mohammad Amir, Sohail, Imran Khan and Wahab Riaz allowed the hosts to amass an above-par total of 270.

“It isn’t easy for fast-bowlers to switch from one pitch to another; here in New Zealand you need bowlers who can pitch the ball up, ones who can kiss the turf rather than banging the ball on the surface. The art is to pitch the ball up and that adjustment isn’t easy; our pacers needed to be disciplined and bowl a probing line and length,” he said.

New Zealand end first day’s play on 77-2

Akram, who served as Pakistan’s bowling coach for two years, also observed that the attacking nature of the bowlers and lack of exposure to green tops was a possible reason for their poor show.

“I feel our bowlers didn’t have the exposure of bowling on these pitches at least on the international stage. Patience is crucial on these pitches, you have to make the batsmen come at you and the wicket-takers need to swallow their ego and bowl in the right areas rather than trying to blow the batting line-up away,” said Akram.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2016.