Eng vs Pak: Ahead of 2nd Test, Atherton defends Azhar Ali

Former England cricketer Michael Atherton has come to the aid of under-fire Pakistan captain Azhar Ali ahead of the second Test starting Thursday at the Ageas Bowl.

Azhar came under immense scrutiny after Pakistan lost the first Test from a winning position to go 0-1 down in the three-match series. Atherton, however, urged Azhar not to think about the criticism but rather focus on the positives from the Manchester Test.

“The first thing to say would be how well Pakistan played for majority of the game. When you lose a game like that, a game which you are expected to win, it is easy to focus on the last bit of the game, which didn’t go well. But if you look at the entire game, Pakistan played really well,” said Atherton while talking to Sports Presenter Zainab Abbas as per Cricket Pakistan.

“So I would not discount that and if you are going to focus on Azhar Ali and the performance, don’t forget that for majority of the game Pakistan played really well. That’s what I would be focusing on as a captain. If I was in Azhar Ali’s shoes, I would be focusing on all the good things that Pakistan did and not concentrate on the negative stuff at all,” he added.

Earlier, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram stated that Azhar missed a trick during England’s fourth innings that ultimately led to the defeat.

“Winning and losing is part of cricket, but I think our captain missed a trick quite a few times in this game, as far as his leadership is concerned,” Akram told Sky Sports after the conclusion of first Test.

“When (Chris) Woakes came in, there were no bouncers, no short deliveries, they let him settle down and runs were coming easy.

“Once the partnership got going, nothing happened – the turn didn’t happen, swing didn’t happen – and Buttler and Woakes just took the game away,” he added.