Azhar Ali believes that a score of 297 in the first innings against New Zealand was a challenging total given the grass cover on the pitch at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Azhar Ali fell just five runs short of his century after a spectacular knock of 95 runs.
Azhar Ali anchored two crucial partnerships and helped the visitors recover from a spot of bother as they were reeling at 83 runs for the loss of four wickets, just before lunch. In the second session of the day, Pakistan scored 130 runs at 4.33 runs per over.
“I knew that the first couple of hours will be tough and obviously when you see this much grass on the pitch you have to focus for a longer time,” said Azhar Ali. “We were positive, especially when the ball is in your zone you must score off it, on these kind of wickets, because you’re going to get one good ball at some stage. You have seen the run rate was good so it’s a good enough pitch to score runs but obviously in between you need to leave on length, which was the key in my batting.”
“If you look at the pitch it’s a decent total, especially batting first. It’s been tough all day so we feel we have enough runs on the board and we can build on it tomorrow,” he added.
Kyle Jamieson was the pick of the bowlers for the Kiwi outfit, picking up his third five wicket haul in just his sixth Test match. Azhar faced 37 balls from the tall Kiwi pacer, scoring 26 runs which includes five fours.
“The guy is quite tall and hitting good lines and lengths and swinging the ball both ways, so it was fun and tough as well,” Azhar said of his contest with Jamieson. “With this height we obviously needed to consolidate as much as we can. But when the ball is there to hit and whenever we got the opportunity we did score boundaries as well. But it was a tough spell to negotiate and at the end of the spell Rizwan got out when he was hitting the ball quite nicely but as far as that partnership was concerned we were very happy, especially the way we scored the runs during that period, it was fantastic.”
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I think it’s a good total: Jamieson agrees with Azhar’s assessment
Kyle Jamieson stated that the Hagley Oval has lent itself towards pace in the recent past, in terms of both wickets and runs. “I still think it’s down to the lengths you need to bowl,” he said. “We’ve seen in games gone by here and certainly in domestic cricket as well, that when your length is fuller, it’s pretty hard to nail that every time, and your natural variation, which is just either side of that, it does provide scoring opportunities. Through my five or six years I had playing domestic cricket down here, I guess that was certainly the case, where guys scored quicker but things happened quicker from a bowling point of view as well,” he added.
Kyle Jamieson also agreed with Azhar Ali’s assessment on the total posted by visitors in the first innings. “I think it’s a good one,” he said about Pakistan’s total. “I think it’s it’s probably par. I think they played well but like we saw, it was still good enough to to score and it wasn’t impossible to bat. So, you know, there’ll be challenges, I guess, in terms of the ball moving and potentially with bounce and and sideways movement, but it’s nothing new than what our guys have seen for four years and years. It’s a reasonable total and I think how we start will be pretty important,” said Jamieson.