England-Pakistan Series: Former stars throw weight behind Green-shirts ahead of series opener

From our correspondent

LAHORE: Former cricketers have thrown their weight behind Pakistan team which will be put to a real test when they will face England in the first Test of the three-match series in connection with the ICC Test Championship which starts at Old Trafford Manchester tomorrow (Wednesday).

Pakistan are unbeaten against England in the last four Test series (2010 onwards). They beat England in home series in 2012 (3-0) and 2015 (2-0) before levelling the 2016 (2-2) and 2018 (1-1) away series.  Some of the greatest cricketers to don the golden star feel Azhar Ali’s men will provide a stiff challenge to the hosts and have an equal chance of winning a Test series there for the first time since 1996.  

Aamir Sohail, who scored a double-century in the 1992 Manchester Test and was part of the squads that won 1992 and 1996 Test series in England, said: “I want to wish the Pakistan team best of luck for their series against England. We are hoping and praying that the Pakistan team will do well in England. “Come on, Pakistan! Give it your best.”

Abdul Razzaq, member of the Pakistan team that drew a two-match Test series in England in 2001, said: “I wish good luck to our team for the England tour. There is a lot of experience in the coaching staff and it will help the players a great deal. Pakistan batting department boasts Azhar Ali, Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam. They will have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders and will be encountered by tough conditions.
“The bowling department consists Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Faheem Ashraf and Sohail Khan, and they form a great combination. The spin department contains Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan. “I am hopeful this will be a very successful tour. The team is based on strong combinations and we will get to see a very good series and it will help Pakistan improve their rankings.”

Mohammad Yousuf, who recorded most Test runs in a calendar year in 2006 including three centuries in four matches in England, said: “The whole country is behind our cricket team. There are great expectations from Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali. I pray that both our senior and junior players give good performances on this tour.  “Good luck!”

Moin Khan, who scored a century in the 1996 Leeds Test and was member of the teams that beat England in 1992 and 1996 away series, said: “We are here to back the team to the fullest in the Test series which begins from Wednesday. Our hope from the team is that they will stay positive and will play positive, aggressive cricket, which is the actual Pakistani flair.  “I want to wish you all the best. Be determined and fight it out. Nothing is impossible in life. All the best.”

Ramiz Raja, who scored three half-centuries in the 1992 Test series and was also member of the team that beat England in the 1987 series, said: “I wish good luck to Pakistan. The series against England brings a big opportunity and a chance to be a hero. “England might have got a head start with the three Tests against the West Indies, but they will be under pressure against Pakistan as they are a quality side. Be united when you play. Unlike ODIs and T20Is, one bad session will not cost you a match; rather you will get opportunities to overcome your mistakes. Slip catching is going to be very important, as it will put England under pressure. “There should be clarity in your purpose, which is to beat England in England.”

Rashid Latif, who scored a half-century on debut in the Oval Test of the 1992 series and was part of the sides that beat England in the 1992 and 1996 series, said: “Pakistan have a world-class player in Babar Azam. Young pacers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah are joined by Mohammad Abbas and they will give tough time to the opposition. Abid Ali has scored two centuries and is joined by Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Shan Masood. And, Mohammad Rizwan is also playing well. “I am hopeful Pakistan will perform well in England.”

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