Which team will win PSL 8?
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Azhar Ali talks exclusively to PP about the Lahore Eagles loss in the semi-final and his selection for the Pakistan A tour to Australia.

by Pakpassion Staff

Speaking exclusively to PakPassion.Net; Azhar Ali admits that whilst the Lahore Eagles kept telling themselves they could go all the way they were pleasantly surprised when they did make it to the semi-final of the recently concluded T20 tournament. Azhar said that in this shortened version of the game no outcome was a certainty any more, any batsman or bowler could have a good 2 or 3 overs and turn the game on its head.

The Eagles went into the semi-final against Sialkot hoping to get Nazir and Malik early because with those two out of the equation it would even the odds and they would be in with a good chance to storm into the final. Whilst they got Nazir fairly early on, Malik did the damage and Tahir Mughal put in a cameo which helped the Stallions post a formidable total. Azhar said that the experience of the Stallions was too much for a side like the Eagles who had a lot of players who hadnt played such a high level of cricket before.

In hindsight Azhar feels that the Eagles were too aggressive about their chase because they didnt have many big hitters and felt that they needed to make up for it with a lot of fours and sixes. Azhar thinks that if they had structured the chase better and played normally then they could've got within touching distance of the total before launching an assault in the second half of the innings.

When I asked Azhar about his performance in the Pakistan A warmup games he said that he'd scored 35, 42 and 58 in the three T20 games and 50 and 47* in the two 50 over games. He's in very good form at the moment and very happy about getting selected for the tour of Australia. Azhar reminded me that he'd been performing at domestic level for a long time including a century in a side game vs Sri Lanka and 75 in a warmup game against Pakistan in Dubai. He really wants to put in some great performances against Australia A and earn himself a place in the squad for the national team.

Azhar describes himself as an opening batsman and points out that all his best performances have come in that position and he likes facing down the new ball. When asked if he's played abroad before he replies that it will be his first tour to Australia but he's played league cricket in Scotland and toured Bangladesh with the Pakistan academy.

He started out as a spinner before becoming a specialist batsman and he feels that this has lead to people labelling him as a bowler. He believes that this is the reason behind his performances as a batsman not getting as much attention as might be expected when a batsman dominates domestic cricket and performs really well in side games. Azhar believes that the message is finally starting to get out that he's a specialist batsman now and hopes that his performances will continue to do the talking for him.

When asked about Pakistan's chances against England today, Azhar said that England would have to play above their ability to beat Pakistan. It's not like England stands a better chance of winning in bingo or the lottery than beating Pakistan, it's just that Azhar believes that Englands bowling is weak because they cant seem to bowl yorkers when needed and their spinners are inexperienced and not of the same quality as Afridi, Ajmal and Malik. He feels that Pakistan will have to play really badly to lose this game and that they are in with a good chance to win the World Cup.

Azhar said that if Gul and Afridi bowl to their ability and if Malik and Misbah bat to theirs then Pakistan will reach the final again. He also thinks that Ajmal will be the surprise package in this T20 World Cup because he's a quality bowler who is an unknown for most teams.

Finally Azhar said that he's visited PakPassion.Net and really likes the site. He said that he especially liked the fact that we know so much about up and coming players and spend so much time discussing their domestic performances. Below is a pic of Azhar Ali with NCA coach Mohtashim Rashid