Azhar Ali

We are ready to take on England,says Azhar Ali

DUBLIN: Azhar Ali was visibly disappointed on Saturday after his team’s second and last One-day International against Ireland was washed out without a single ball bowled.

Pakistan’s captain was hoping that his team will get another opportunity to warm up for the challenging limited-overs series against England after thrashing Ireland by 255 runs in the first ODI on Thursday.

“It was disappointing for us today as we were looking forward to this game before returning to England,” he said soon after it was announced that Saturday’s game had to be abandoned because of rainy weather.

“The weather hasn’t been good here since the day we came here because of all the rain. We couldn’t prepare well (for the England series) because of it but the upside is that we did play one of the two games and did really well in it,” he said.

Azhar was pleased to see that his comeback players like Umar Gul, Sharjeel Khan and Imad Wasim managed to quickly find form while debutant Mohammad Nawaz also made his presence felt with a fifty.

“There were a few boys who were coming back and others who were playing for the first time. It was great to see them perform in the first match.

“The balance of the team looks good as the boys are in fine nick,” said Azhar.

He hoped that Pakistan will end their preparations for the five-match ODI series against England positively in Southampton where the opening game will be played on August 24.

“We will try our best to prepare well for the series. We will have a few days before the opening match in which we will work on certain areas where we need to improve,” he said.

Asked about the comeback of pacer Umar Gul, who has returned to the Pakistan line-up after a long break, Azhar said that he was heartened to see a senior player like Gul making an impressive return.

“It is not easy for a senior player to return after a long break because there is a lot of pressure on him but Umar Gul bowled really well and that’s a good sign for us,” said Azhar referring to Gul’s three-wicket haul in the game against Ireland.

Azhar also hailed Sharjeel Khan for his emphatic return to the 50-over format.

“I think Sharjeel made a great comeback. We need him in form at the top of the order in the series against England.

“Imad Wasim also got five wickets bowling really impressively. Nawaz who was playing his first game batted well can. He can also bowl. So these are all good signs.”

Azhar said that despite hit by wet weather, Pakistan’s brief tour of Ireland has boosted the team’s confidence.

“England are a tough team. They are among the best sides in the ODI format. But the good thing is that we will go into the series against them with our confidence high.”

Pakistan will arrive in Southampton on Sunday and will train over the next few days before the series-opening game next Wednesday.


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