LAHORE-Test captain Azhar Ali believes that his side is capable of beating England in their own backyard in the upcoming three-match Test series if the batting unit clicks to post 300-plus totals.

“I think that if our batting can put together totals around 300 or more runs, we have the potential to beat England. On recent tours, we have made strong comebacks and done well there,” Azhar said this during an online session with sports journalists here on Saturday before departing for England.

The 35-year-old Test captain dismissed concerns about the team’s young pace attack. “I believe we have a pace-cum-spin attack which can give England a run for their money. Youngsters like Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah or Muhammad Hasnain have immense potential to succeed in English conditions while we have plenty of experience as well in our bowling,” he added.

The veteran of 78 Tests and 53 ODIs said he did not believe that his bowlers would face problems in England due to the new ICC Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for bowlers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I don’t think the ban on the use of saliva to shine the ball is a big problem.

“Our pace bowlers usually sweat a lot and plus the Duke ball has a lot of wax coating so the shine remains for a long time and it can be polished with sweat. The bowlers get natural movement with the Duke ball in English conditions and not being able to use saliva means our bowlers can also try to reverse swing it more,” he added.

Azhar said that Pakistan would not face any problem playing in empty stadiums as they were accustomed to this environment while playing in the UAE in the last 10 years. “No one knows better than us what it is like to bat in an empty stadium.”

He also dispelled the impression that the players going to England were under pressure because of the positive tests of 10 players and one official. “I think if someone tests positive, it is a surprise and this happened with our players but generally, I think in this lockdown period, the players have kept themselves fit and ready for cricket.”

The skipper also said that the players have no concerns about playing in a bio-secure environment in England or remaining in quarantine and isolation for long periods. “The West Indies players are already there and they appear to be comfortable and safe and are preparing now for their tests.”

He said that he would bat at his usual number three position but if the need arises, he could bat elsewhere in the order. “I have settled down at number three but whenever the team has needed me to open, I have also opened.”

Azhar said that despite some inexperience in the team, most of the players had done well in England on previous tours and knew the threat of bowlers like James Anderson, Stuart Broad or Jofra Archer. “We have played them before and we have scored against them as well so it is not going to be a surprise for us.”