A defiant century from Pakistan captain Azhar Ali held up England but late breakthroughs ensured Joe Root's men were able to enforce the follow-on and close in on a series-clinching victory in the third Test.

Azhar remained unbeaten on 141 when the tourists were bowled out for 273, still 310 behind.

Bad light delayed Pakistan's second innings until the fourth morning.

Mohammad Rizwan added 138 for the sixth wicket alongside his skipper, using up almost 40 overs before being strangled down the leg side by Chris Woakes for 53, leaving Stuart Broad (2-40) to get amongst the tail and James Anderson (5-56) to take his 29th five-wicket haul in Tests.

Anderson, who is now just two away from the historic landmark of 600 Test wickets, had Asad Shafiq (5) caught at slip by Root during a rain-affected morning session, although an lbw appeal from Broad and a claim for caught behind from Jofra Archer – both against Azhar – saw England burn through their reviews in quick time.

Fawad Alam joined Azhar in helping to repel a ferocious Archer spell before falling for 21 when off-spinner Dom Bess extracted turn and bounce and Jos Buttler took the catch off the shoulder of the bat.

England's gloveman was similarly sharp when Rizwan perished in unfortunate fashion, while his acrobatic leap to his right to remove Shaheen Afridi arguably topped anything the first-innings centurion accomplished with the bat over the first two days.

That was Broad's second success with the second new ball, although Anderson's landmark bid was undermined when Rory Burns and Zak Crawley each shelled slip chances off his bowling in the 87th over.

The veteran's mood was hardly improved when Broad dropped a dolly at mid-on offered by Azhar before promptly throwing down the stumps and running out Mohammad Abbas for one.

Anderson's scowl had barely lifted when Dom Sibley held on in the cordon to dismiss Naseem Shah for a duck, putting the Pakistan top order back in his unerring sights.

Azhar breaks 6,000 barrier

Although the landmark on everyone's mind was Anderson closing in on his sextuple century of Test scalps, Pakistan captain Azhar moved beyond 6,000 runs in the longest format as he fought an almost lone hand against the seemingly inevitable.

After a 17th Test ton, the 35-year-old sits as Pakistan's fifth highest runs scorer of all time in the longest format.

Buttler back on song with bat and gloves

Following his game-changing knock as England won the opening Test and Old Trafford and a career-best 152 in the first innings here, Buttler took his renewed form behind the stumps.

The England wicketkeeper's glovework came in for criticism in Manchester but smoother footwork was on display and his catches to remove Fawad and Rizwan were both top class. The flying one-handed grab to account for Shaheen Afridi was absolutely sensational.

Struggling captain Azhar Ali knows he and Asad Shafiq must "step up" and contribute with the bat when Pakistan attempt to avoid a Test series defeat to England. 

Azhar is under pressure after making only 38 in his three innings against Joe Root's side so far, while Shafiq has only three more runs to his name from a defeat in the opening Test and a weather-hit draw at the Rose Bowl. 

The tourists must win the third and final match, which starts on Friday, to avoid their first series loss in England for a decade in the longest format. 

Azhar is aware that he, along with Shafiq, needs to deliver in Southampton, though the skipper said he retains the backing of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). 

He said: "Being a captain, it is my responsibility to score runs. Asad Shafiq has been a match-winner and one of the best players we have got. 

"He has always scored runs under pressure. As senior batsmen, we both need to step up and make contributions for Pakistan in the third Test. 

"We have such a good bunch of guys with us. They make my job as captain really easy. I have the full backing of the PCB as captain. 

"Right now, my entire focus is on the third Test match and not thinking about the criticism from outside."

Azhar is backing young pacemen Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi to deliver, too. 

"We are lucky to have exciting fast bowlers. Although they are young in terms of age, they are exciting characters," he said.  

"You can't buy experience without playing, so we have to back them [Naseem and Shaheen] because they are bowling really well and putting opposition under pressure. 

"You can’t sit outside and gain experience. These guys have taken up the challenge and impressed everyone around the world, so I still feel they are good enough to win Test matches for Pakistan." 

Azhar said Pakistan would assess the pitch before naming their side after recent poor weather on the south coast. 

Meanwhile, former internationals Mohammad Yousuf and Abdul Razzaq are among a host of former players who have taken up coaching roles with the PCB.

Captains Joe Root and Azhar Ali were both able to draw positives from the drawn second Test between England and Pakistan, a match which was ruined by stoppages due to bad light and rain.

Only 134.3 overs of play were possible across the five days in Southampton, meaning England remain 1-0 up with a game to play in the three-match series.

After Pakistan were eventually bowled out for 236 in their first innings, England reached 110-4 before declaring on a final day that did not start until the afternoon, allowing an early finish to proceedings.

Root admitted it was "disappointing" that the conditions did not allow for an intriguing contest to play out, as well as suggesting a move to start play earlier in England to make up issues with the light.

"We were really excited about this week, a new challenge for us, and it's disappointing not to get in as much cricket as we'd have liked - but nice to be stood here still 1-0 up in the series," he said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

"Potentially, in England, we may be able to start half an hour earlier - if we lose time - I think you want to protect the crux of Test cricket as much as you can, in terms of the ball, but it is something to look at it I suppose.

"But I do think it has been a week of strange circumstances. It's not very often that you see bad light play such a part over a five-day game. Everyone has coped with it as best they can."

Zak Crawley's half-century was a highlight of Monday's limited action, the right-handed batsman marking his return to the XI with 54 from 99 balls.

On the performance of Crawley, who replaced the absent Ben Stokes in the team, Root said: "I thought he played excellently today.

"I spoke to the batting group before we started play today about making sure that we were very professional in how we approached this session - and for what is a very young top order, in particular, it was a great experience for us."

Opposite number Azhar was pleased with the way his team fought hard with the bat to post a competitive total in what were bowler-friendly conditions.

The tourists must now win the final match, which gets under way at the same venue on Friday, if they are to draw level, but there were promising signs for their skipper in what little action unfolded at the Rose Bowl.

"It has been frustrating for both teams. The game was set quite nicely, with conditions good for bowling throughout - the total we got, we thought would be very competitive but, unfortunately, the weather was the winner in the end," he said.

"I'm proud of them [the batsmen]. We spoke before the game started that we are taking the challenge of batting first. Whoever went in fought really hard; the England bowling attack is a brilliant attack, with the experience of Broad and Anderson. The guys stuck to the task."

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali believes Babar Azam is up there with Steve Smith and Virat Kohli as one of the best batsmen in the world ahead of the Test series against England.

Babar has proved he can be a class act in all formats and will be hoping to pick up where he left off on the Test stage at Old Trafford this week six months after he last played for his country. 

The Pakistan white-ball captain scored four hundreds and two half-centuries in his last seven innings in the longest format before the coronavirus brought cricket to a halt.

Babar is sixth in the Test batting rankings, but Azhar says that is not a true reflection of his quality.

Asked if the 25-year-old can elevate himself to be put in the same bracket as Australia batsman Smith and India skipper Kohli in the next few weeks, he said "I think he is right up there already.

"People are thinking and talking about it. He is just hungry for runs and I think if he keeps doing that he will be up there for quite a long time

"His performances have improved massively in Test matches over the last year or so. Firstly he was performing really well in white-ball cricket and people thought he was only a white-ball player but he took on that challenge and played with a lot of freedom and flair.

"As a captain I want him to play the way he wants to. Just to relax and play his game and I'm sure if he does that he will go massively up the rankings in Test matches as well.

"He is a very important player for us but I would like him to be free from any pressure and just enjoy his game."

Azhar is also backing 17-year-old Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi to make a big impact in the three-match series with Joe Root's side, which starts in the bio-secure bubble in Manchester on Wednesday.

"They are very talented, obviously not as experienced as some of the bowling attacks that have come to England in the past, but potentially they are right up there," said Azhar.

"Naseem is a young talent who came up and played Test cricket from nowhere. He's impressed all of us and is in our number one bowling attack. Over time he will get the experience he needs.

"In terms of his potential, he is very threatening and hopefully he will be very good for us in this series."

Azhar Ali sounded a note of cautious optimism over Pakistan's preparations for the Test series in England.

Pakistan face the hosts in a three-match series starting at Old Trafford next month, with captain Azhar's side training in Worcester.

They staged an intra-squad friendly across Sunday and Monday and, after a three-month coronavirus-enforced break, Azhar was pleased by what he saw.

"Both batsmen and bowlers have adapted to the conditions," he told the Pakistan Cricket Board website.

"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.

"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.

"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."

Pakistan's initial squad had to be altered after several players tested positive for coronavirus, but no cases of COVID-19 have been found within the touring party.

England's "fragile" top order will be the target of Pakistan in their upcoming Test series, according to captain Azhar Ali.

A 20-man squad travelled to England on Sunday for the tour, which begins with three Tests, with 18 of Pakistan's initial 29-man group having been given the all-clear following the latest coronavirus tests.

Fast bowler Musa Khan and wicketkeeper Rohail Nazir have joined those 18 in making the trip.

Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz were among those to test positive for COVID-19 and those who have been infected must return two negative tests before they can travel to England.

Pakistan are set to face an England side who have struggled to replace Alastair Cook since his retirement from international duty in 2018.

Excluding nightwatchman Jack Leach, England have used five different opening pairings and found consistency hard to come by.

The obdurate Rory Burns displayed promise in the Ashes, while Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Joe Denly will be in contention to open alongside him when England face West Indies in a three-match series starting on July 8, prior to the Pakistan games.

"Their bowling attack is brilliant in their own conditions and there is no doubt about it," Azhar said prior to Pakistan's departure for England.

"Other than Jofra Archer we have faced all of them - [Stuart] Broad, [James] Anderson, [Chris] Woakes, [Ben] Stokes and even [Mark] Wood was there, but we have still won against them.

"Looking at their batting, their top order has been fragile for some time since Alastair Cook retired.

"They have tried a lot of combinations lately and might be looking a bit more settled, but they haven't been really confident with it. So there is something for us in it to look at."

Fast bowlers Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi might be lacking in experience of English conditions, but Azhar has confidence in their ability to overcome a lack of practice on the surfaces they will encounter.

"In terms of number of games, of course England have tons of experience in their bowling," Azhar added. "But we have the skills: they [our bowlers] are young and have a lot to offer. They can give trouble to any team in the world. In a very short time, they have achieved a lot and that is a good sign.

"You can't buy experience immediately, and for that you obviously have to play more, but then we have a very experienced coaching staff with Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed.

"Their expertise and knowledge can be utilised and they will be helping them. So I believe, when this combo of experience and skill is brought together, that we can produce a great result. I am confident about this."

Babar Azam has been confirmed as Pakistan's new one-day captain, while Azhar Ali will remain in charge of the Test team.

Batsman Babar is to lead his country in white-ball cricket for the 2020-21 season, the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed on Wednesday when announcing the new list of central contracts for the upcoming campaign, which begins on July 1.

The 25-year-old averages 54.17 in his 50-over career for Pakistan and sits third in the International Cricket Council’s batsmen rankings, behind India duo Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

He had already replaced Sarfraz Ahmed in charge of the Twenty20 side but will now be skipper in the ODI format too, though it is unclear when Pakistan will next be in action.

A one-day tour to the Netherlands was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning they may not play a 50-over fixture until they take on South Africa in October.

Ali, meanwhile, is to continue in the Test job, with Pakistan scheduled to play a three-match series against England during a tour that also includes a trio of T20 games.

"I want to congratulate Azhar Ali and Babar Azam for getting captaincy extensions," Misbah-ul-Haq, chief selector and head coach, said. "This is absolutely the right decision as they also require certainty and clarity on their future roles.

"I am sure they will now start looking to the future and start planning so that they can build sides that can perform at the expected levels."

Meanwhile, Naseem Shah and Iftikhar Ahmad were the two new additions to receive central contracts – but Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz were all absent from the 18-man list.

Amir and Wahab "remain in contention", however, as Misbah is hopeful the experienced duo can help aid the development of Pakistan's up-and-coming fast bowlers.

Misbah said: "The selectors have made the tough decisions to leave out Amir, Hasan and Wahab but considering Hasan missed most of the season due to an injury and Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket, this was the right move.

"However, Amir and Wahab are senior and experienced bowlers and they remain in contention as we believe they can still contribute to the Pakistan men’s cricket team and also mentor our young battery of fast bowlers."

Azhar Ali offered heartfelt thanks to Sri Lanka following the successful return of Test cricket to Pakistan.

The hosts completed a 263-run win in the second Test in Karachi on Monday, 16-year-old seamer Naseem Shah finishing with five wickets as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 212.

However, while Pakistan could therefore celebrate a series victory, after a drawn first Test in Rawalpindi, the resumption of Test cricket in the country following a 10-year hiatus provided much greater satisfaction.

Prior to this two-match series, Tests had not been played in Pakistan since March 2009, when six policemen and two civilians were killed in an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.

A decade on, Sri Lanka's return was the source of much pride and happiness, as Pakistan captain Azhar noted in his post-match comments.

"Special thanks to Sri Lanka from the bottom of our hearts," said Azhar. "They have given us immense happiness by playing in Pakistan. It was an emotional moment returning home to play."

Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne hailed the security staff who have looked after his side during their tour.

"The security was really good," he said in a news conference. "We knew we were secure and we feel safe here.

"I just want to thank all of the security guards who gave us security, the Pakistan Cricket Board and all of the fans of Pakistan. They were really good.

"For me, I can say for now it's really safe here. All of the other countries, all the nations who play cricket, they can come and play cricket here. It's safe to play in Pakistan."

Oshada Fernando struck a defiant maiden international century but Pakistan need only three wickets to seal a Test series win over Sri Lanka heading into the final day in Karachi.

The hosts had piled on the runs in the first half of Sunday's play, Azhar Ali (118) ending a year-long wait for a Test century and the classy Babar Azam (100 not out) hitting a third in his last four matches after Abid Ali and Shan Masood had reached three figures on day three.

It was only the second time in history the top four have all made centuries in the longest format, enabling Pakistan to amass a mammoth 555-3 declared at the National Stadium.

The tourists were set an unlikely 476 to secure a 1-0 win in the first Test series to be played in Pakistan for a decade, but they were on the ropes at 212-7 at stumps.

Opener Oshada was unbeaten on 102 after he and Niroshan Dickwella (65) put on 104 for the sixth wicket, but Haris Sohail and the excellent Naseem Shah (3-31) struck late in the day as Pakistan closed in on victory.

Azhar set about Vishwa Fernando with a flurry of boundaries and celebrated his 16th Test century – albeit his first as captain - after Pakistan resumed on 395-2 in batting-friendly conditions.

The home team's skipper, who struck 13 fours in a brilliant knock, was finally on his way when he was stumped coming down the track to Lasith Embuldeniya, ending a third-wicket stand of 148.

Babar hit Lahiru Kumara for three boundaries in a row and the declaration arrived after he had recorded a ton for the second time in the series.

Sri Lanka were in trouble on 40-2 when 16-year-old Naseem had Kusal Mendis taken by Babar at third slip without scoring just one run after captain Dimuth Karunaratne had edged Mohammad Abbas behind.

Shaheen Afridi got in on the act by dismissing Angelo Mathews before tea, but Oshada stood firm and was rewarded with a half-century early in the evening session.

A fourth-day finish looked a possibility after Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva fell cheaply, but Oshada and Dickwella refused to accept defeat.

Oshada had a life when he was put down by Naseem at backward point on 72 off Yasir Shah, while Dickwella was operating in one-day mode at the other end.

The wicketkeeper-batsman found the ropes 11 times in an entertaining knock before he was bowled by Haris attempting a reverse sweep. Naseem got rid of Dilruwan Perera just before the close too, not long after the resolute Oshada had celebrated reaching his hundred.

Abid Ali and Shan Masood struck centuries on day three to put Pakistan in charge of the second Test against Sri Lanka at the National Stadium in Karachi.

Pakistan were on the back foot with a first-innings deficit of 80 but are in control on 395-2 with a lead of 315 in their second Test on home soil for a decade after Abid and Masood put on 278 for the first wicket.

Abid struck a debut century in the drawn match in Rawalpindi last week and made a sublime 174 on Saturday, becoming the first Pakistan batsman to score hundreds in his first two Tests.

Masood (135) crafted his second Test hundred, with Lahiru Kumara taking the only wickets of a gruelling day for Sri Lanka by removing both openers before Azhar Ali made an unbeaten 57.

The opening stand was just 20 short of the Pakistan record achieved by Aamer Sohail and Ijaz Ahmed against West Indies in 1997 and made Azhar's side firm favourites to secure a 1-0 series win.

Pakistan resumed with work to do on 57 without loss, but Abid and Masood gave them the upper hand in a wicketless opening session.

Abid slog-swept Lasith Embuldeniya for six and was seven short of three figures at lunch, while Masood was also untroubled as the Sri Lanka bowlers toiled without reward on a flat pitch.

The runs continued to flow in the afternoon session, Abid bringing up his hundred by working Embuldeniya for two and Masood also raised his bat after steering Dhananjaya de Silva for a single.

Masood came down the track to loft Embuldeniya for his third six, but he departed to a standing ovation after top-edging Kumara to Oshada Fernando at deep square leg.

Pakistan were 202 in front on 282-1 at tea and Abid continued to torment the tourists, hitting Fernando for three boundaries in an over after passing 150, with Azhar ticking along nicely at the other end.

Abid continued to find the gaps and looked to be heading for a double-century until he was struck in front by Kumara, bringing an end to a magnificent knock that included 21 fours and a six.

Skipper Azhar, out for a second-ball duck in the first innings, coasted to a half-century and Babar Azam was 17 not out at the end of a dream day's play for Pakistan.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani is confident Australia and England will tour the country in the coming years as they prepare for a first Test on home soil since 2009.

Pakistan face Sri Lanka - the last team to visit over a decade ago - on Wednesday in Rawalpindi, the opener in a two-game series that also includes a Test in Karachi.

Mani insists Pakistan are not planning to play future series on neutral grounds, with England "very supportive" ahead of a possible tour.

"We are due to play England in 2021-22 and we are in serious discussions with them about coming to Pakistan," Mani told ESPN Cricinfo.

"So far, they've been very supportive, so I fully expect they will come and play their cricket in Pakistan. 

"Similarly, Australia, their chief executive has been to Pakistan and he's gone back with a totally different perception from what he thought it was like."

Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali, meanwhile, has said the series opener against Sri Lanka is a huge moment for the country.

"It's a moment to rejoice, not only for the players but the whole Pakistan nation," he said, in quotes reported by Sky Sports.

"We had a tough series in Australia and the way we lost there was disappointing. Moving forward, we see this home series as an opportunity and advantage to turn things around.

"We will try our best to fix our mistakes and improve wherever we had been lacking.

"We have outstanding talent in our squad. They have potential and, if we implement it, results will be good."

Azhar Ali insists the Test progress made by Babar Azam means Pakistan have a major positive to take out of their heavy series defeat to Australia.

Pakistan lost the second Test by an innings and 48 runs on day four in Adelaide after Nathan Lyon took 5-69 in their second innings of 239 all out.

The tourists were following on after Australia declared on 589-3 in a first-innings onslaught inspired by David Warner's 335 not out.

Pakistan also lost the first Test by an innings but Azhar was unwilling to completely write off the tour ahead of two matches against Sri Lanka later this month.

Already a star in limited-overs cricket, T20I captain Babar scored 104 in the opening Test in Brisbane and 97 in the first innings of this contest.

"He's been tremendous in white-ball cricket and in the recent past he's been gradually building up his Test stats as well," Test skipper Azhar said of Babar. 

"This series definitely will be the breakthrough he wanted. We were all hopeful that he would do it.

"He's a good enough player. We all know that. But sometimes if you score in tough conditions against tough bowling attacks, it gives you the extra boost and the belief that you can make even better strides in Test cricket.

"That's been a big positive now for us that Babar has stamped himself a Test player. He's been fantastic throughout the year, lovely to watch and hopefully he can continue this form in the Tests that are coming. Babar has been exceptional."

Azhar also highlighted the performances of wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan and Yasir Shah, who scored 113 in the first innings at number eight, but conceded the series was ultimately a disappointment.

He added: "Rizwan waited for his chance and then grabbed it with both hands. The way he batted at Gabba and the way he kept wickets in both games has been fantastic.

"We didn't want to give up at any stage and Yasir put up a lot of fight.

"But it has been a disappointing series. We didn't live up the expectations that were based around this young team. It's very hard here with a young bowling attack and we came with a lot of expectations but it didn't go well. 

"To win Test matches we need to take 20 wickets and we need to work out how to do that. And also to score big in the first innings – getting ahead of the game here is very important.

"It's always hard coming to Australia and we've been beaten by a better side. But very positive for the future, we will learn a lot.

"I'd like to congratulate Australia, especially David Warner for his triple hundred."

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins starred as Australia knocked over Pakistan on the stroke of stumps on day one of the opening Test.

Starc claimed four wickets – including the final dismissal of the innings – and Cummins finished with three as Pakistan were bowled out for 240 at the Gabba on Thursday.

After losing five wickets in a middle-session collapse, Pakistan battled back via Mohammad Rizwan (37) and Yasir Shah (26) until losing 0-3 as Australia made the most of the second new ball in Brisbane.

Pakistan batted first after winning the toss, and it looked to be a wise decision as the tourists frustrated Australia's attack.

Despite a couple of early shouts, Pakistan impressed with captain Azhar Ali (39) and Shan Masood (27) at the crease – the pair making it to lunch unscathed on 57-0.

Azhar and Shan became the first tourists to bat through the opening session of a Test at the Gabba without lunch.

But Australia turned the screws on Pakistan after lunch as Josh Hazlewood (2-46), Cummins (3-60) and Starc (4-52) ripped through the top order.

After Pakistan reached 75-0 shortly after the break, Australia took 4-3 in a stunning seven-over blitz – Cummins setting the tone.

Cummins, the world's number one Test bowler, made the breakthrough with an angling delivery, which removed Shaan, who edged through to Steve Smith at slips.

The floodgates opened from that point as Hazlewood struck to dismiss Azhar – his 100th Test wicket on Australian soil – and then Babar Azam (1).

Starc sent Haris Sohail back to the pavilion caught behind for one, while Iftikhar Ahmed (7) was the last wicket to fall before lunch after inside-edging a Nathan Lyon (1-40) delivery to Marnus Labuschagne.

Resuming on 125-5 following tea, Rizwan came out with intent – hitting Cummins for three boundaries in one over.

Rizwan, however, was unfortunate after he was controversially caught behind on a Cummins delivery which appeared to be a no-ball.

But Pakistan dug deep and looked set to see out the day with four wickets in hand, until Australia took the new ball and Starc claimed back-to-back scalps as the lights came on, with 16-year-old debutant Naseem Shah (7) preventing a hat-trick prior to being caught and bowled at the death.

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali has high hopes for Naseem Shah as the 16-year-old prepares to make his Test debut against Australia.

Azhar praised the seamer's technical abilities and mental strength after the teenager suffered a personal tragedy following the recent death of his mother.

Although Pakistan's line-up for the clash at the Gabba is yet to be revealed, Azhar confirmed Naseem would be involved and he has high hopes for the youngster.

"Not many players can be at that standard so early but there are exceptions and he is one of them," said the skipper ahead of the two-match series. 

"And hopefully – we are all looking forward to it – he can have a very successful career.

"When I saw him first, I was so surprised. The control he had, the pace he had – and the temperament and the composure when he bowls is so exciting to see."

Naseem, who will become the youngest male Test debutant on Australian soil, played in a warm-up match in the aftermath of his mother's passing and Azhar paid credit to his courage.

"Obviously, it was a hard time for him but he coped with it very nicely and he came out and bowled the very next day, which is very heartening," he said.

"He is opening up a little bit. Obviously, when he came in to first-class cricket, he was a bit shy but now he is starting to enjoy it."

Pakistan have not won a Test match in Australia since 1995 and have never triumphed in a series there in the longest format. 

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali has high hopes for Naseem Shah as the 16-year-old prepares to make his Test debut against Australia.

Azhar praised the seamer's technical abilities and mental strength after the teenager suffered a personal tragedy following the recent death of his mother.

Although Pakistan's line-up for the clash at the Gabba is yet to be revealed, Azhar confirmed Naseem would be involved and he has high hopes for the youngster.

"Not many players can be at that standard so early but there are exceptions and he is one of them," said the skipper ahead of the two-match series. 

"And hopefully – we are all looking forward to it – he can have a very successful career.

"When I saw him first, I was so surprised. The control he had, the pace he had – and the temperament and the composure when he bowls is so exciting to see."

Naseem, who is will become the youngest male Test debutant on Australian soil, played in a warm-up match in the aftermath of his mother's passing and Azhar paid credit to his courage.

"Obviously, it was a hard time for him but he coped with it very nicely and he came out and bowled the very next day, which is very heartening," he said.

"He is opening up a little bit. Obviously, when he came in to first-class cricket, he was a bit shy but now he is starting to enjoy it."

Pakistan have not won a Test match in Australia since 1995 and have never triumphed in a series there in the longest format. 

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