Azhar Ali sets double-ton benchmark in Australia

The opening batsman, who surpassed Majid Khan’s highest individual score of 158 by a Pakistani in Australia, struck 205 runs from 364 deliveries, laced with 20 boundaries, on the third day of the second Test in the series to guide Pakistan to 443-9 in their first innings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

And Qasim, while hailing Azhar’s feat, rated the opening batsman as one of the best in the world at the moment.

“Azhar has proved his credentials as one of the top Test batsmen [in the world],” Qasim told The Express Tribune. “No matter what the conditions are, scoring runs against Australia in their own backyard is no mean feat. He now has a triple hundred, a double hundred and a century in a calendar year which is a phenomenal record. I would say if he continues to play like this, he can most certainly be counted among the Test greats.”

The former chief selector also urged the team management to not disrupt Azhar’s form by changing his batting position.

“Azhar took some time to settle after being promoted as an opener [from one-down]. He is settled as an opener now and his batting position must not be changed,” said Qasim.

Following Azhar’s brilliant batting performance, the Australians also showed why they are one of the most formidable sides at home in the world as David Warner smashed a quick-fire 144 off 143 balls to get the home side right back in the game.

The hosts were on 278-2 when the third day’s play was called off and Qasim lamented Pakistan’s bowling attack’s inability to curb the flow of runs.

“Pakistan had a good opportunity to bring Australia under pressure after posting a good total, but the bowlers wasted that chance by allowing Australia to score freely. Our fast bowlers bowled the same way like their Australian counterparts but their batsmen play the pace well which is the difference between the two sides,” he said.

He further added, “I feel Yasir Shah had the greater responsibility of taking wickets; he has a good chance to play a key role but he is not performing up to the expectations. If Pakistan are to win this Test from here, Yasir will have to play a leading role.”

Speaking on the possible outcomes of Boxing Day Test, Qasim said a draw was on the cards.

“Almost a day has been lost due to rain and the forecast isn’t good for rest of the days. There is 80% chance of a draw and only some outstanding performances from either side can lead to a result in the second Test,” he concluded.

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