Skipper Azhar Ali has named top-order batsman Babar Azam and wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan as Pakistan’s biggest positives from their 0-2 series loss to Australia. Although he believes they picked their best side, Azhar called for extra preparation for the bowling unit to succeed Down Under.
Although he has been around international cricket for more than four years now, 25-year-old Babar is yet to match his limited-overs exploits with the bat in red-ball cricket. However, with a superb century in Brisbane and an equally free-flowing 97 at the Adelaide Oval, pundits and fans — his skipper included — believes that the breakthrough moment has finally come.
"He's been tremendous in white-ball cricket and in the recent past, he's been gradually building up his Test stats as well. But this series will definitely be the breakthrough he wanted. We were all hopeful that he'll do it. That's been a big positive for us that Babar has stamped himself a Test player," Azhar said of Babar, reported ESPNCricinfo.
In what was otherwise a disappointing series for Pakistan, their decision to grant Rizwan the opportunity as first-choice wicket-keeper came good. The 27-year-old did a neat job with the gloves, played some handy knocks with the bat and was also a live wire in the field
"He's (Rizwan) been performing in first-class cricket for a few years now. Rizwan waited for his chance and then grabbed it with both hands. The way he batted at Gabba and the way he kept wickets in both games has been fantastic. His energy is always good for the team, whenever we were down in the field, he kept us up. That's fantastic for any team. He's a team man,” Azhar said.
However positive those individual efforts, two innings-defeats further pointed to a yawning gap between the teams. Azhar feels this was because of the weaknesses in his bowling attack and pointed out the need to play more 'A' series in these parts of the world.
"This was the best possible team we could have picked, especially with regards to the bowling options. But you also have to see that in Australia you need a certain kind of pace attack. And in our domestic cricket, we don't have those kinds of pacers. I think, most importantly, 'A' team tours and Under-19 tours are very important. To win Test matches we need to take 20 wickets and we need to work out how to do that," Azhar concluded.