Australian pacers Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle have singled out Pakistani batsman Azhar Ali as the key wicket during Australia’s upcoming two-match Test series against Pakistan.
In an interview with cricket.com.au Starc said, “They’ve got a quality batting line-up, and on some really flat wickets their whole middle order’s going to be a really good battle.”
“I think someone like Azhar Ali, who scored a fair few runs against us in Australia last time they were here, he’d be a big one at the top of the order for them.
The 33-year-old averages 69.75 with the bat against the Aussies in seven Tests, including three centuries and four fifties.
“He can bat long periods of time, he’s not too fazed about being tied down. So I think if we can get him early and get their middle order in against a newer, harder ball, then that’s a good starting point.”
On the other hand, Siddle has termed the batsman as “dangerman.”
“The key wicket for them is always going to be Azhar Ali,” Siddle said, adding “He’s one of the leaders in that side now.
The last time the two sides met, in Australia in the 2016-17 summer, Ali made scores of 5, 71, 205*, 43, 71 and 11 to be the tourists’ leading run-scorer.
“From the last tour when we went over there, they had the stars and the old heads of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq to lead them, they’re probably a little bit less experienced now, which is good news for us, but they’ve still got a lot of class players.
“We saw that on the last tour (to Australia) — they had a lot of young guys that stood up and performed well for them.
“So I think (Azhar) is going to be the big wicket, but in that time these young guys have come about, and they play some exciting cricket, so we’ve got to be on our toes and prepared.
“But like I said, they are a little bit less experienced this time around, so if there’s ever an opportunity to beat them away from home, it’s definitely this time around.”
Pakistan and Australia play the first Test in Dubai from October 7 while the second Test is in Abu Dhabi from October 16.