Pakistan : Azhar shines in middle order

Azhar shines in new middle order

Azhar Ali has shown the right temperament for Test cricket© AFP
The value of the ICC's Test rankings might be debatable but a quick glance makes one immediate impression: the world of Test cricket is two divisions in one. Pakistan are in the second tier, an unhealthy distance adrift of Australia who prop up the top teams. That Pakistan haven't hit the bottom of the pile, however, is a wonder in itself. Even in the severest adversity, mostly self-afflicted, Pakistan have been able to pull off a surprise win or commendable draw.

The South Africa series is a case in point. Despite the loss of leading players, the one-day series was a thriller right up to the moment that Zulqarnain Haider fled to England. The deciding match was a disappointment but Pakistan's nerves were clearly frazzled by the sudden controversy. In that context, and compounded by injuries to Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistan looked set for an absolute battering in the Test series.

Much to everybody's surprise Pakistan batted with grit, sound technique, and occasional aggression. It was a method that hadn't been exhibited by Pakistan for quite some time. What prompted it is unclear? But a drawn series in Dubai and Abu Dhabi was a minor triumph for Pakistan cricket, although both teams were more defensive in the Test series than they needed to be.

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