Pak vs SA 1st Test: Azhar Ali to Pakistan team before South Africa test, ‘Be positive and grab the opportunity’

Pak vs SA 1st Test: Pakistan’s senior-most batsman Azhar Ali has made an appeal to the young guns in the team to brush aside their insecurities and express themselves freely against South Africa in the upcoming Test series.

South Africa who last visited Pakistan in 2007 had won the two-Test series 1-0. Last week, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced a 20-member squad, including nine uncapped players, for the Test series, which commences on January 26. “International cricket is always a challenge. Even if you play as a youngster or up there for long, pressure will remain forever,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Azhar as saying.

“But obviously for a new player it is a challenge to handle pressure and then there are insecurities in our culture around what if they are dropped,” he added.

Earlier, Pakistan batting coach Younis Khan highlighted how other teams have players who burst into the international arena after playing at least 100 first-class games, and Pakistan on the other hand picks players looking at their performances in other formats.
Azhar agreed with the former skipper and advised the youngsters to trust their skills and do what they are good at.

“Obviously we understand that there is a big difference between international and domestic cricket which makes them a bit insecure. But as a senior player, my advice to them is to trust their skills and stick with that they are doing to do well,” said Azhar.
“Because that is what is going to give them the best chance to perform. If you think too much that will bring negativity and hold you from doing well. So be positive and grab the opportunity,” he said.

Aleem Dar will be officiating in his first-ever Test at home, while on-field umpire Ahsan Raza and match referee Mohammad Javed Malik will also make their Test debuts as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), on behalf of the International Cricket Council (ICC), confirmed match officials for the Test series on January 16.