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The Australian pace duo of Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle have admitted that they both have Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali in their crosshairs in the upcoming two-Test series.
Starc and Siddle explained that they will be targeting Azhar as he is one of Pakistan’s more experienced players. On top of that, he averages 69.75 with the bat in the seven Tests he has played against the Baggy Greens.
With this in mind, Starc and Siddle both acknowledged that dismissing Azhar early on will be crucial.
“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,” Starc told cricket.com.au. “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.
“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.”
Siddle, who is set to play in his first Test since November 2016, added: “The key wicket for them is always going to be Azhar Ali. He’s one of the leaders in that side now.
“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.”
Australia’s Test series against Pakistan begins on October 7 in Dubai.