‘Our target is at least 500’, says Azhar Ali

"Throughout his innings he was very composed and he rarely missed a bad ball"

“Throughout his innings he was very composed and he rarely missed a bad ball”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has revealed that his side are targeting “at least 500” runs following an extremely successful first day against New Zealand.

Even though Ali only made 39 runs, Pakistan still finished on 281/3 at stumps thanks to Mohammad Hafeez’s unbeaten 178.

“We are very glad we all batted. It is very important that when you win the toss and bat first, you make big runs,” Ali said. “Fortunately, we had a good start and we want to capitalise on it and tomorrow, hopefully, we continue that. And the partnership going on, we’ll hopefully try and make it large and hopefully make a big score in the first innings.

“It’s a good start but we want to make it big. On a good track, you want to bat as long as you can and make at least 500 on this wicket. So our target is at least 500, anything over that will be very good for us.”

Ali lauded Hafeez’s superb innings and added that it was incredible he batted the way he did after having missed the second Test in Dubai. Hafeez was forced to skip the second Test since he had to get his bowling action tested at Loughborough University after being reported for a suspect action following the conclusion of the first Test in Abu Dhabi.

“I think he came back one day earlier and he was focused for this game and the way he batted, it showed how focused he was, throughout his innings he was very composed and he rarely missed a bad ball,” Ali said.

New Zealand spinner Mark Craig, who took two out of the three wickets that fell on the first day, also praised Hafeez for his incredible knock.

“I think you have to take your hat off to him. I think he batted extremely well,” Craig said. “He managed to soak up pressure when we got the ball in the right areas and when we missed slightly, he managed to put it away. He batted exceptionally well.”

Despite only three wickets falling on the first day, Craig still believes that captain Brendon McCullum made the right choice by including three spinners in the side.

“I think the fact that you can play three spinners means the boys can chip in some shorter spells and keep a bit fresher for a bit longer so I think it’s awesome that three of us are there,” he said. “We are not really looking at what we can restrict them to. It’s more a case of us going out there tomorrow and implementing our roles as bowlers and stuff like that.”

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