Azhar prepared for crucial morning
Azhar Ali believes tomorrow’s opening session could well prove pivotal after Pakistan fought back with late wickets on day two of the second Test against England in Abu Dhabi.
A second-wicket partnership of 139 between Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, who contributed 94 and 74 respectively, elevated England into a strong position after they had taken just 16 deliveries to end Pakistan’s first innings on 257 this morning.
However, after Trott had been bowled by Abdur Rehman, Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan fell in quick succession to Saeed Ajmal as the tourists slipped to 207 for five at stumps.
Much now appears set to depend on how big a lead, if any, England can establish on day three, with Matt Prior set to resume alongside Ian Bell, who has four to his name.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Pakistan batsman Azhar said: “It will definitely be a critical day and we are wishing that in the first session tomorrow we do well.
“I think it will get harder and harder (to bat). When we get in the next innings it will be difficult to chase, so we are hoping that we can restrict them (England) as soon as possible and set them a good target for the fourth innings.”
Azhar admitted Pakistan had been lifted by their courageous fightback this evening.
“They had a very good partnership but we came back strongly at the end,” he added. “Everyone, the way they kept believing in themselves, I think that was great.
“We wanted to have a breakthrough. We finally got it and a few wickets after that as well.”
Commenting on conditions at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Azhar said: “There was turn and bounce, especially in the last session. Once you get in, it gets easier.
“We aimed for about 350 at least in the first innings and didn’t get it, but we still had a belief that we can get them out under that.
“We definitely played a few shots that we shouldn’t have, but at the end we have to fight with what we have got just now.”
Umar Gul, who bowled only 10 overs to Ajmal’s 29.5 as the seamers played a holding role, was full of praise for a spin attack responsible for all five wickets between them.
“It was very good for batting in the first two sessions, but after tea our world-class spinners got the ball to turn,” he said.
“We’re hoping the wicket plays the same in the morning.”