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Windies series will be a great opportunity to silence critics, believes Azhar Ali


Karachi [Pakistan]: Asserting that Pakistan have to raise their game as per the contemporary standards, ODI skipper Azhar Ali believes the upcoming three-match series against West Indies will provide his side with a great opportunity to bring themselves back on the winning track.

Earlier in the week, Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq was handed the prestigious ICC Test championship mace for inspiring Pakistan to the top of the rankings while commentators lamented the ODI side’s ninth ranking in the 50-over format.

Pakistan fell to the lowest-ever rating of 86 points after suffering a crushing 1-4 defeat at the hands of England that also dampened the team’s chances of automatic qualification for the ICC World Cup in 2019.

However, Azhar sees the upcoming series against the Caribbean side as a great chance to silence critics and move one position up to the number eight spot in the ODI rankings with a clean sweep.

“The series against the West Indies is a good opportunity for us to put ourselves on the winning track. We not only have to win the West Indies series but to perform very well in the future contests as well to improve our chances for 2019 World Cup. But there is definite hope and still a lot of time for the cut-off date for the World Cup qualification,” Azhar was quoted as saying by the Dawn.

Pakistan, who played their last ODI match against the West Indies during the 2015 ICC World Cup and lost by 150 runs, have a fair record of seven wins to five losses over the Caribbean side in the last five years.

Despite being hopeful about his side’s chances of continuing their good run against Jason Holder-led side, the 31-year-old insisted the Caribbean side are very tough opposition with some really explosive cricketers.

Downplaying the slump in ODI team’s performance under his leadership, Azhar said that it was due to the absence of many key players in the team that his country’s performances in the limited-overs cricket hasn’t been up to the mark in recent times.

“It is because our main players have retired while key players such as Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez have been banned from bowling in international cricket. We could defend 250-260 back then but the oppositions today have greater batting depth and a total of 300 is frequently achieved,” said Azhar

The top-order batsman, however, called on his side to work on their batting and raise their standards.

“We need to work on our batting. Today’s cricket is fast and the average scores today have gone up by 50 runs. We therefore have to raise our game accordingly to contemporary standards. We have a good bowling unit, but we can certainly do better. We have also struggled in the fielding department as well,” Azhar suggested.

Pakistan are slated to play three-match series against West Indies starting from September 30 in Sharjah. (ANI)

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