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England is the final frontier for Babar Azam: Mudassar Nazar

Former cricketer backed Pakistan’s limited-overs captain to prove his mettle in the upcoming series

PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

Former cricketer Mudassar Nazar believes England is the final frontier for Pakistan’s top-order batsman Babar Azam, who has dominated bowlers all over the world in the past two years and has four Test tons in his last five matches.

Pakistan is scheduled to take on England in three Tests and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is), which will be played from August 5 to September 1.

While speaking to Cricket Pakistan in an exclusive interview, the former cricketer backed Azam to prove his mettle in the upcoming Test series against England.

“England is the final test for Babar Azam. Although he has toured England before, he hasn’t been tested properly yet. If he scores here, then no one will be able to catch him. The way he is dominating bowlers these days, if he does the same in England then no one will be able to catch him,” said Nazar.

“Babar had a weak point that he used to drive the ball wide outside off-stump, which is a natural weakness in batsmen who grow up playing on Pakistani pitches. But in recent times, he has started playing late and has a great grip on the bat. In South Africa as well, Babar dominated Dale Steyn, who is famous for his outswing. I think he will perform well in England as his confidence is very high right now,” he added.

The 64-year-old feels batting will be a tough challenge for Pakistan on fresh England pitches. However, the Men in Green’s strong slip cordon can prove beneficial for their bowlers.

“Pitches will be completely fresh as no cricket has taken place in England this season. If there is rain around in August, which usually happens during the end of the summer, then batting will be difficult. So Pakistan batting is bound to struggle in England. Plus, they haven’t played cricket for a long time as well. Whereas, England will be coming on the back of a Test series with West Indies,” he said.

“Few things are also in Pakistan’s favour. In recent times, Pakistan has performed well in England. The Men in Green’s slip cordon has also improved a lot. During the last two years, Asad Shafiq and few others have done a wonderful job in the slips. In England, bowlers try to get batsmen out to slips or gully. So it is very important to have a sold slip cordon there. In past tours, Pakistan team had suffered due to weak slip cordons,” he added.

Nazar also said that the pressure of a dual role is taking a toll on Pakistan’s head coach-cum-chief selector Misbahul Haq.

“Misbah has put himself in a difficult situation by accepting too many roles. He should have only accepted the head coach role if he wanted a coaching position. At some stage, he will have to let go one of the positions,” he said. “You can only pick 11 players in the team. Not only Karachi but the whole Pakistan gets upset when Fawad Alam is not selected. He has performed well in domestic cricket for a long time, so if you don’t play him and then lose the game, so pressure is bound to get to you.”

Watch full interview: