Azhar Ali hopeful to soften Misbah blow in Hamilton Test

Karachi [Pakistan], Nov.24 : Pakistan opener Azhar Ali, who will lead the Test side in Misbah-ul-Haq's absence, has said that although standing in place of the regular captain is a tough task, he is hoping to rise to the challenge in the crucial second and final Test against New Zealand beginning on Friday in Hamilton.

Misbah will miss the Hamilton Test after he returned home following the death of his father-in-law, and was later handed a one-match ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for slow over-rate during their comprehensive eight-wicket loss in Christchurch Test.

With Pakistan looking to level the series, Azhar is keen to lift the spirit of the side ahead of the three-match ODI series against Australia to be held in December.

"It certainly is a massive blow given he [Misbah] and Younis Khan have been our mainstays for such a long time," the Dawn quoted the ODI skipper as saying.

"I have full belief in our players that we will rise to the occasion and win the Test so that we draw the series and go to Australia [for the next series] with our morale high," he added.

Admitting that it would be a herculean task for him to fill in place of `inspirational` Misbah, Azhar insisted that he wanted to make the Hamilton match memorable as it would be his first Test as a skipper.

"I have very big boots to fill as Misbah is an inspirational captain but this is my first Test as skipper and I want to make it memorable for myself and the country," Azhar said.

The ODI skipper pointed out that his side had shown in the past that they had a potential to stage strong comeback, adding that he is hoping to see the similar kind of return in the upcoming match.

"We have shown that we have the potential to come back strongly . just as we did in the England series [in July-August] where we came back from losing back-to-back Tests to draw the series 2-2," insisted Azhar.

Source: ANI