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Zaheer praises Azhar’s ‘brilliant’ double-ton

KARACHI: The national selection committee braces for strong resistance from the Pakistan management now touring Australia after it emerged on Wednesday that Kamran Akmal is all but unacceptable for next month’s series of One-day Internationals.

The committee, headed by former national team skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq with members Tauseef Ahmed, Wajahatullah Wasti and Wasim Haider, is slated to name the 15-man squad on Saturday for the five matches — at Brisbane (Jan 13), Melbourne (Jan 15), Perth (Jan 19), Sydney (Jan 22) and Adelaide (Jan 26) — here on the day the semi-finals of the ongoing National One-day Cup for Departments are being played.

With the top Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials, including the governing board members, visiting Karachi for Thursday’s inauguration of the High Performance Centre — which has been upgraded from the previously known regional academy — in the vicinity of the National Stadium and the board of governors’ meeting on Friday, it is almost certain that the selectors will unveil the squad at a media conference the next day (Saturday).

Selector Wasim Haider, who hails from Faisalabad, is already in the city for the past one week after being assigned to watch the Karachi leg matches of the one-day cup. He had been frequently shuttling between three venues — National Stadium, UBL Sports Complex and SBP Sports Complex — since Sunday.

According to sources, Wajahatullah Wasti, the Peshawar-based national selector, is due to arrive LAHORE: Pakistan batting great Zaheer Abbas praised opener Azhar Ali after the right-hander became the first batsman from the country to score a double century at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Wednesday.

Azhar scored an unbeaten 205 off 364 balls, plundering 20 boundaries to help Pakistan post an imposing first innings total of 443-9, which was followed by captain Misbah-ul-Haq’s decision to declare.

Zaheer believed Azhar’s knock came at just the right time when Pakistan needed their batsmen to take responsibility following defeat in the first Test in Brisbane and going down 1-0 in the series.

“Azhar played well, infact he is scoring consistently proving himself as a reliable opening batsman,” Zaheer told Dawn.

The former Pakistan captain believed Azhar successfully brushed off all criticism which raised question marks on his reliability as an opener.

The ‘Asian Bradman’ was not keen to draw comparisons between Azhar and David Warner, with the latter scoring a quickfire 144 off 143 balls to drive Australia to 278-2. The former, on the other hand, scored at a much slower strike rate of 56.31.

“Azhar’s knock was according to the situation as Pakistan were struggling earlier in the innings and this knock helped them post a big total,” he said.

Zaheer believed posting 300 plus runs in the first innings does not guarantee Pakistan a win in the match, as suggested by Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur earlier.

However, he said, observing the previous record of Australia, the ongoing series was a good chance for Pakistan to beat Australia on their home soil after a long time.

“Look, this is a young Australian team, which has lost series to India and South Africa in the recent past and our team is strong enough to beat them,” said the former ICC president.Zaheer, considering the batting-friendly nature of the Melbourne pitch, predicted the ongoing Test to end as a draw.

courtesy : dawn news

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