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Tuesday Aug 25 2020

Nasser Hussain lavishes praise on Azhar for mental toughness amid criticism

Pakistan's Azhar Ali plays a shot on the third day of the third Test cricket match between England and Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, southern England on August 23, 2020. — AFP/File

Former England captain Nasser Hussain on Tuesday praised Pakistani skipper Azhar Ali, saying that he has shown commendable mental toughness, especially at a time when his captaincy was attacked from all corners.

“Azhar also only made a very small alteration but it's amazing the difference it has made in both innings of this last Test. Most of all, he has shown incredible mental toughness at a time when his captaincy has been questioned and his side have been struggling,” Hussain wrote in his column for The Daily Mail.

Hussain also believed that a slight technical change with the bat, has been beneficial for Pakistani skipper Azhar Ali, during the ongoing third Test against England in Southampton, as he scored an unbeaten century.

Azhar was criticised for his below-par performance by the cricket legends and experts over his failure to grab the opportunity to win the Manchester Test despite being on top and in a better position against the host team.

“All too often Azhar got his front leg in the way and was then falling over the crease with his bat coming down at a bad angle.

Read more: Waqar backs Azhar Ali to overcome bad form in 2nd Test against England

So the bowlers have worked to get his leg across his stumps before producing a nip-backer that gets him plumb lbw,” he said.

The adjustment proved beneficial for Azhar as he scored an unbeaten century, 141, in the first innings of the match.

“So there comes a time when, if you keep getting out the same way, you have to think,  "I've got to make an adjustment here," he said.

“Azhar has done that between the last Test and the start of this one and his slight adjustment has been moving his front foot out of the way in his stance, just by a couple of inches, and opening his hips up a bit.

”That means he has not been planting his leg in front of off-stump - instead it is in front of middle or middle and leg - and he has looked a lot more confident when England have been targeting those pads,” Hussain said.

Maintaining that such a change isn’t an easy task, especially if it has worked well for you in the past, Hussain said: "People will say 'if it is that simple and he can score a century now why didn't he do this before?' but it is not that straightforward."

Firstly it doesn't feel natural at first to change something that has served you well everywhere else throughout your career. Also,  any change you make can then lead to other forms of dismissal,” he added.