Arthur heaps praise on Pakistan centurion Azhar


Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur is happy with the state of his top order heading into next week's opening Test against England, though he singled out centurion Azhar Ali.

Azhar produced a dominant display with the bat, making 145 runs as Pakistan ended the first day of their tour match against Sussex at 363-5 on Friday.

The 31-year-old hit 20 boundaries and one six in his 266-ball performance, teaming up with Younis Khan for a 125-run third-wicket stand at Hove.

It was Azhar's second hundred in England following his 101 in Tuesday's draw with Somerset.

"His build up has been great. It's been fantastic," Arthur said via ESPN Cricinfo.

"He got out for 26 against Somerset in the first innings and got a rap on the knuckle for getting in and not going on.

"Well he has certainly done that now. He has got himself two hundreds, so he is going to hit the Test match in great form. But not only form, batting is all about confidence. It's about coming in and knowing you're in good form.

"I just hope that continues in the Test matches."

Aside from openers Mohammad Hafeez (17) and Shan Masood (4), Pakistan's top order fared well.

Younis (59) and captain Misbah-ul-Haq (68) both recorded half-centuries, in a boost for Arthur ahead of Thursday's opener at Lord's.

Of Younis, Arthur said: "He has worked extremely hard in the nets. I felt against Somerset he came in at dead periods of the game.

"I'm happy he spent time out in the middle. That for me is was key for him getting confidence. We can have five or 10 nets but for him to spend two and a half hours out in the middle is invaluable.

"Everyone one of our top order have had time in the middle going into the first Test and as a coach that's all you can ask for."