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Pakistan will have a tough challenge against England - Azhar Mahmood

Pakistan will have a tough challenge against England - Azhar Mahmood
Azhar Mahmood feels that Pakistan will face a tough contest against England in the upcoming three-match Test series in the United Arab Emirates.
©REUTERS / Action Images
 

Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood feels that Pakistan will face a tough contest against England in the upcoming three-match Test series in the United Arab Emirates.

This is the first time since the 3-0 win in the 2012 Test series that Pakistan are playing England in the longer format of the game.

However, Mahmood is of the view that it will not be easy for Pakistan to repeat the heroics of the 2012 series this time around.

“With England now in the UAE to play a series against Pakistan, the question on most people’s minds is whether Pakistan can repeat the whitewash which they inflicted on England in 2012,” said Mahmood in an interview to PakPassion.net.

“My opinion is that this will not be an easy series for Pakistan.” 

One of the main reasons Pakistan won the 2012 series emphatically was the spin duo of Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, who shared 43 wickets between them.

Mahmood is not sure if Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar can be as effective as Ajmal and Rehman were in the previous series.

“To start with, the Pakistan team composition has changed.

“In 2012, the vastly experienced Saeed Ajmal was our prime bowler and spin was a dominant factor in that series.

“Not only are we missing the services of Saeed Ajmal now, we do not have Abdur Rehman who also played a pivotal role in our success.

“Instead we have the slightly inexperienced duo of Yasir Shah who will most likely be supported by Babar.” 

On the other hand, England have been through a good phase and having recently won the 2015 Ashes against Australia, they have the momentum on their side.

The England team is also a good mixture of young and experienced players while the likes of Joe Root have been in great form for the last couple of years.

Mahmood observed that the key for England to succeed in the upcoming series is to tackle the spinners better than they did in 2012.

“If you look at the England team today, you will see a team which is riding high on confidence and has been playing an aggressive brand of cricket in the past few months.

“They have a number of players who could prove dangerous for Pakistan.

“However, they do have a weakness against spin and if there is spin in the wickets, they will surely struggle.

“I have seen this in county cricket where local players find it difficult to bat the moment there is turn for the spinners.” 

Pakistan enjoys a good record in the UAE where they have not lost a single bilateral Test series out of the seven they have played since 2010.

Despite this record, Mahmood opined that the only advantage for Pakistan in this series will be England’s weakness against spin.

“All in all, Pakistan has the advantage due to England’s weakness against spin but no one can say that a three nil drubbing of the sort that happened in 2012 will happen again.

“England do have some good players of spin for example Moeen Ali who can bowl and bat well.

“I really feel that this will be a tough and hard fought series and will not be like the previous series.” 

Mahmood played 21 Test matches and 143 One-Day Internationals for Pakistan between 1997 and 2007, whereas he also enjoys a great record in the England domestic circles.

The 40-year-old has now set his eyes on the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and is hoping that one of the teams will pick him up from the draft.

“I am really looking forward to participating in the PSL.

“I have forwarded my name for the draft and will hopefully be picked to play for one of the teams.

“The tournament promises to be an exciting one with a number of top international players like Chris Gayle participating in it.” 

Mahmood further expressed his desire to be involved in the game as a coach and is eager to offer his services to any team participating in the 2016 World Twenty20.

“I would like to end by mentioning something which I enjoy doing and that is coaching.

“This is something that gives me satisfaction and a lot of pleasure.

“It's an aspect of the game that I would like to continue to do in future also.

“With the World T20 next year, I'd love to have the opportunity to work as a member of the coaching staff for one of the teams.”

The first Test of the three-match series between England and Pakistan will be played in Abu Dhabi between 13th and 17th October. 

© Cricket World 2015