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Azhar Ali the survivalist

In the age of rotation and body sciences, fast bowlers hog the limelight when it comes to talk of fitness. Torque, hip rotation, body alignment, pressure on the back, 4 tent peg and a whole lot of semi cricket, semi body sciences terms are thrown around. Batsmen are not under such scrutiny. The toil on their body perhaps is not greater. But as Raj Kumar Hirani/Aamir Khan put it so wonderfully in 3 Idiots, scientist haven’t invented a device to measure stress on the mind.

If they make one anytime soon, I would like to test stress levels of Azhar Ali as he bats in England. The slight change in stance, the movement across, the quick hands and his reaction to each shot. He prods, he pokes, he perseveres and gets out of jail every so often. Its not pretty but boy is it effective. Many batsmen with greater talents much poorer records. Many Pakistani batsmen, termed superstars failed in away conditions but not Azhar. He focuses on each ball like his life depends on it. Yesterday, a ball from Broad jagged back to find him in awkward position. Head outside off stump, left leg in b/w the bat and the fast approaching ball. From a technical point of view, disastrous. The cover for out swing, Azhar has ended up going across way to much & now looks like a lying duck. Only for him to somehow shimmy his hands forward of the pad so as to meet the ball just in the nick of time. He survived and the next ball he was back to his compact best.

And in doing so, he took care of the hazardous new ball, allowing batsmen some ease. Being the ‘senior’ batsman, taking responsibility and not throwing a young one to the sharks. Contrary to the tradition of Pakistan cricket. Recently, as Azhar and Harris gust it out against Anderson and Broad, it was heartening to see the fight.


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