LAHORE-Test skipper Azhar Ali on Wednesday said that the players have adapted to the challenging English conditions ahead of the Test series against England.

Pakistan players have started their preparations for the Test and T20I series against England with a two-day inter-squad scenario-based practice match played on July 5-6 at Worcester. “Both batsmen and bowlers have adapted to the conditions. The wind was troubling the bowlers initially but they overcame it, which was heartening. Definitely, the players are going to need some time to adjust. Despite the break, they are in good shape which is a positive sign for us,” Azhar told pcb.com.pk.

“All the batsmen batted quite well especially Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq and Abid Ali seemed in total control, Shan Masood adapted well to the conditions and Mohammad Rizwan looked in good shape,” he added.

The team returned to training on June 30 after a gap of more than three months and the Test skipper believes that experienced pacer Mohammad Abbas will guide and share his knowledge with young seamers. “Mohammad Abbas is our experienced bowler and his presence is of advantage for us as he also keeps guiding the youngsters. He is someone who can be a very important member of the attack for us. Naseem Shah bowled very well in the scenario-based match. He will attain more control as he continues to bowl,” he said.

The captain admitted that it would be a challenge to play cricket at ‘full-strength’ after the Coronavirus enforced break but playing practice matches will serve the purpose. “We are playing cricket after a long time and it is not going to be easy to start at full-strength. We have to go step-by-step and I am very happy that the boys utilised their practice time of four days well,” he added.

“No matter how much you practice, playing matches is always more beneficial. If you spend half of your practice’s time in scenario-based matches, it gives you a lot more confidence. Playing this scenario-based match was very important for us,” the skipper asserted.

To prevent the proliferation of COVID-19, the ICC has introduced changes in its playing conditions that prohibit bowlers from shining the ball with saliva and handing their sweater, cap or hat to the umpires while bowling. Azhar said that adjusting to the new regulations was a little difficult, but the practice games will help in the adaptation. “There are some areas where we have to adapt. In this weather, it was only the fast bowlers who sweated so it was a challenge for us to shine the ball. But, that’s something which will change as the weather continues to get warm,” he said.

“The most challenging thing, however, was that the bowlers had to put their sweaters and caps outside the boundary rope because of which managing the over rate was getting a bit difficult. Especially, in Yasir Shah’s case, he fields in the circle but had to go all the way to the boundary to put his things. But, I am comfortable that we will adapt to these changes as we still have a two-day and two four-day matches to play and they will help us,” Azhar added.