dailyegham KARACHI: Pakistan openers will have their task cut out against English bowlers, according to former captain and Test opener Ramiz Raja.

Ramiz, who has established himself as an internationally recognised commentator since fading away from international cricket almost two decades ago, feels that good starts are imperative if the tourists are to replicate the success of the 90s teams that won back-to-back series in England.

In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Ramiz chose Mohammad Hafeez and Shan Masood as the opening pair for the Lord’s Test that commences from July 14.

The 57 Test veteran is hoping that Hafeez steps up and makes good use of his form in the longest format of the game. “It has to be Hafeez and Masood for Lord’s and more than their techniques, I think their body language needs to be positive,” said Ramiz.

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He further added, “Our record against England in recent years has been pretty special [Test series wins in UAE in 2012 and 2015] and openers must carry that feel-good factor.”

The last Test tour of England in 2010 was torturous for the openers where they were separated for a single digit partnership a staggering six out of eight innings; Shan only made his debut three years later, while Hafeez did not feature in the series.

And Ramiz has urged his countrymen to not let the past affect their performance. “We have to forget what happened in 2010; this is a different team. Hafeez has loads of experience and he must make full use of his credentials. He can further enhance his pedigree and I am sure he is preparing adequately.”

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Stick to the basics, advises Ramiz

Ramiz who played seven Tests in England — 341 runs at an average of 34.10 — stressed on covering the basics rather than worrying about the correct technique to counter the wobbling Duke Ball.

“They need to play basic common sense cricket and not worry about seam, swing, pace or bounce. Openers must know about their off-stump and when they get in they should look to score runs. At Lord’s for example the pitch becomes great for batting on day two and three, so make sure you cash in,” he said.

Ramiz also is of the opinion that more often than not, openers have the task of settling any nerves in the dressing room and must stay calm themselves. “Openers need to give the team a lift in the dressing room, when they walk out the entire dressing room looks up to them and it is their job to calm the nerves by their actions and reactions against opponent bowlers,” he added.

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Openers run in the 1992 series

Ramiz, who with Amir Sohail, was one half of a pretty successful opening pair in the historic five-match 1992 Test series which Pakistan won 2-1, believes that self-belief was the key factor behind their success.

Ramiz and Sohail formed more than one useful alliance at crucial stages to thwart the English bowlers. And for the former, the World Cup triumph a few months before the tour was the tonic which instilled a real sense of belief.

“We had a lot of self-belief going into the 1992 Test series; we wanted to dominate since we had won the World Cup,” he said. “We didn’t let any negativity bog us down; that tour was a mixture of aggression and being really positive.”