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Potent pacers give us edge over England: Asad Shafiq

LAHORE: Experienced batsman Asad Shafiq, while expecting to bat higher in order, reckons Pakistan have the potential to come out victorious in the two-Test series in England starting next month.

“I have been batting at No.6 [for a while] in Test matches. However, now I am expecting to bat at fourth or fifth position, though a final decision in this regard will be taken by the team management,” said the-32-year-old Asad while talking to reporters before the start of the national training camp here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.

The camp has been set up for the tour of Ireland, where Pakistan will play one-off Test in Dublin, and England. The Pakistan squad will leave later this month and start the tour with a four-day match against Kent from April 28-May 1 at Canterbury.

The squad for the said tour is likely to be named on Sunday.

Asad, who has so far featured in 58 Tests scoring 3,614 runs with the help of 11 centuries and 18 half-centuries at an average of 39.71, believes Pakistan have the capacity to subdue England on their soil, emphasising the touring team’s pace attack would give them an edge over the hosts.

“In the presence of pacers like Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali, Pakistan have the potential to bowl out England quickly. But then the responsibility will [also] be on our batsmen to take advantage by scoring handsomely in order to win the Test matches,” he said.

“Yes, as the team’s senior batsmen responsibility will be on Azhar Ali, captain Sarfraz Ahmed and on myself to lead from the front as all the three have the experience of playing in English conditions,” added the right-handed batsman.

While underlining that batting on seaming English pitches was not easy, Asad said as professionals Pakistan batsmen would have to cope with the tough challenge.

He noted that after the retirement of veterans Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan plus the non-availability of frontline leg-spinner Yasir Shah due to injury the task in England had become challenging for Pakistan.

“Yasir does not ask for perfect spin-friendly conditions as he has the talent to claim wickets on any kind of surface.

Therefore, his absence will make a difference,” highlighted Asad but also pinned his hopes on the youngsters who he insisted had the capacity to fill the gap.

“In Test cricket, every player has to perform as no team can win the five-day matches on the basis of individual performances.”

After suffering surprising series loss (0-2) to Sri Lanka in the UAE late last year, Asad said, Pakistan would be different outfit in England.

“We lost two last Tests to Sri Lanka, which we could win. But there were tough batting conditions in the UAE and hopefully it would not happen in England as we have learnt the lessons.”

While expressing satisfaction over his performance in Test cricket, Asad said he was trying to lift his game also for ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals by improving in domestic limited-overs contests.

The national training camp was progressing smoothly and the main focus was on improving the players’ physical fitness level, concluded the batsman.