By - OUTLAW_TORN
Really freaky fast bowling, really fearless shot selection and really fearless off-field hobbies are what had come to be known as the three pillars upon which Pakistan cricket stood as the most exciting and ruthless form of the game for the past two decades. That is until the arrival of Azhar Ali into the team.
Having read and heard numerous people attribute Pakistan’s change in strategy, from brutal attack to fortified defense, to the calming influence of Misbah-ul-Haq, I should say that they are all wrong. Misbah, we should remember, is the guy who went into a six hitting frenzy and almost single handedly won Pakistan the first edition of the T20 World Cup. He has quite a bit of fury within him and would have aptly adapted himself and fit in to the traditional Pakistani way of playing. Instead he adapted to the new strategic ploy of Pakistan brought into the team by the mindset of a quiet revolutionist. It is the ‘Azhar Ali Method’ that has changed Pakistan cricket.
Probably no one noticed this: Azhar Ali made his test match debut in the very same test match which also happened to be Shahid Afridi’s last. Yes, his debut perfectly coincided with Shahid Afridi’s retirement as captain and player from Pakistan’s test squad.
With the departure of Mr. Pakistan Cricket Personified, the team was left asking questions about themselves, life and the universe. They found comfort in the cuddly arms of Azhar Ali who introduced a style of play which was only familiar to the ones lucky to survive after witnessing Australia’s first televised test in 1958 in which Trevor Bailey made 68 off 427 balls and made the coveted record for the slowest half-century ever recorded in test cricket.
Azhar Ali showed them the way of the antarctic seal. Lay calm in your big soft blubber on icy shores and you shall find peace while also being recognized as an immovable object. It required little thought to put Azhar Ali in as a regular at silly-mid-off since his aura of genuine inertia stopped many a ball from going to the boundary.
Azhar Ali comes in at number three in the batting order. This means that every time the openers look up to the balcony they see Azhar Ali padded up with great serenity. They find no need to be extravagant. When Azhar Ali comes to the crease, the man at the other end, be it Younis or Misbah or a human being of the Akmal variety, will always find solace in the fact that whatever I do, I do know that this guy is not going to score any. Therefore I can back myself to pick up the ’500 dollar most boundaries hit’ prize at the end of the match. A great amount of pressure is relieved from their shoulders.
The Azhar Ali method is a great asset. For one, it plays mind games with the opposition captain. Standing at slip, that guy is always preoccupied thinking that if Azhar Ali edges this should I catch it or drop it? Do I want the scoreboard ticking or do I like it the way it is? Quite a mental burden on any team’s captain to always keep him guessing.
Pakistani’s like pace. We invite Azhar Ali to open up “The Azhar Ali School of Pace Batsmanship” in Karachi. Pace is of course subjective.