Players need time to adjust to conditions in England, says Azhar Ali

Pakistan Test skipper Azhar Ali feels the players still need some time to acclimatise themselves to the conditions ahead of the series against England which includes three Tests and as many T20Is.

The Pakistan team started their preparations for the much-anticipated series with a two-day inter-squad scenario-based practice match played on July 5-6 at Worcester.

The team returned to training on June 30 after a gap of more than three months and Azhar believes the scenario-based match proved to be beneficial for the players to ready themselves for the all-important three ICC World Test Championship fixtures against England, which commences from August 5 at Old Trafford.

“We are playing cricket after a long time and it is not going to be easy to start at full-strength,” Azhar told pcb.com.pk. “We have to go step-by-step and I am very happy that the boys utilised their practice time of four days well.”

“No matter how much you practice, playing matches is always more beneficial. If you spend half of your practice’s time in scenario-based matches, it gives you a lot more confidence.

“Playing this scenario-based match was very important for us.”

The first match will be played at the Old Trafford, Manchester, followed by the last two Tests at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton, which start on August 13 and August 21 respectively. Azhar said players remain in good shape and are trying to adapt to the conditions, especially the pacers.

“Both batsmen and bowlers have adapted to the conditions. The wind was troubling the bowlers initially but they overcame it, which was heartening,” he said.

“Definitely, the players are going to need some time to adjust. Despite the break, they are in good shape which is a positive sign for us.”

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus, the International Cricket Council (ICC) introduced changes in its playing conditions which do not permit the bowlers from shining the ball with saliva and handing their sweater, cap or hat to the umpires while bowling.

Azhar said that adjusting to the new regulations has been a bit difficult, but the practice games will help in the adaptation.

“There are some areas where we have to adapt. In this weather, it was only the fast bowlers who sweated so it was a challenge for us to shine the ball. But, that’s something which will change as the weather continues to get warm,” Azhar said.

“The most challenging thing, however, was that the bowlers had to put their sweaters and caps outside the boundary rope because of which managing the over rate was getting a bit difficult.

“But, I am comfortable that we will adapt to these changes as we still have a two-day and two four-day matches to play and they will help us.”

Pakistan are currently under a 14-day quarantine period, following which they will travel to Derbyshire on July 13.