Akram cautions Pakistan ahead of opening Test

Karachi: Pakistan pace great, Wasim Akram has cautioned the national team players, saying they shouldn’t take the two tour games seriously and be prepared for an entirely different challenge when they face England in the first Test at Lords starting on Thursday.

“Pakistan would make a big mistake if they take the outcome of the two tour games seriously and treat it as a benchmark for the test series. Touring sides in England are always given soft opposition and pitches in the side matches,” Wasim said today.

“The tour games should just be considered as good warm up opportunities but the team management shouldn’t read too much into them,” he advised.

Wasim, who captained Pakistan in England several times in his career including the 1999 World Cup where Pakistan reached the final, said that England would come up with a more challenging pitch at Lords.

“They will prepare a seaming track and their eleven is going to be a different challenge altogether from the side games,” he said.

Wasim said while he was encouraged by the performance of the pace bowlers but they still needed to work a lot harder.

“It is the batting that concerns me because to me Muhammad Hafeez and Misbah-ul-Haq don’t appear to have the correct technique for English pitches. They play half cock a lot and you need to know your off stump in England to succeed,” he said.

Wasim’s new ball partner and Pakistan’s former head coach, Waqar Younis also expressed concern over Hafeez’s form.

“Both series are very important for Hafeez’s career… He should know that he is not a youngster anymore and if he doesn’t perform then he won’t get many chances,” said the former fast-bowler while talking to a private TV channel.
Wasim said in England batsmen needed to play with a

straight bat and be patient. “Our batting will be tasted and if our batsmen like Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Azhar click then it will be a good series. But to me England start off as favorites,” he added.

Wasim also said that left arm pacer, Muhammad Aamir will not find it easy playing in the Test at Lords as he will also face hooting, jeers and slogans from the crowd.

“But he has to focus a lot on his bowling. If he performs well on this tour he will emerge as a world class pace bowler,” he added.

The former captain, however, expressed disappointment at England captain, Alaister Cook’s statement on Aamir and said there was no need for the skipper to get into this discussion.

Wasim also advised Pakistan to play leg-spinner, Yasir Shah in all Tests and go in with two left arm pacers and a right arm pacer.

“They would make a mistake if they went in with three left arm pacers. Because there will be spells where the English batsmen will dominate,” he said.

Waqar said his biggest concern remained the opening slot.

“Our openers are still struggling so I would still go in with Hafeez because of his experience despite his poor form in the side matches.