One thing which has surprised me is the doubts & question marks which are being raised regarding Taufeeq Umar’s place as Pakistan’s test match opener. Taufeeq has 3 centuries & 4 half centuries in 29 test innings since being recalled into the side. He was Pakistan’s leading test run scorer last year. He has opened in 15 consecutive test matches alongside Mohammad Hafeez which is 50% more than the previous highest by a Pakistani opening pair ever, overtaking Ramiz Raja/Mudassar Nazar & Saeed/Sohail. That is a reflection of his performances & consistency which has resulted in stability & continuity in first choice selection matters. He has been involved in the most 100+ stands for the opening wicket by a Pakistani opening pair so has been providing starts & foundations for the middle order to build on.
Younis Khan has publicly said that Azhar Ali’s emergence & revelation at number 3 has reduced the pressure & burden on him & allowed him to settle into an easier position at number 4 to consolidate on a firm top order display. Azhar Ali has been doing wonders at number 3 as his 50+ test average in the 15 test matches under Misbah ul Haq shows. Not only is he technically well equipped in defence & tactical awareness, but has the mental toughness to absorb pressure up front, after all men with balls do the hard yards of batting at 3. Hence, needless to promote Azhar to the opening slot, both from an individual & team point of view.