Azharullah debut impresses Ripley

Muhammad Azharullah took 3-59 in Hampshire's first innings
Muhammad Azharullah took 3-59 in Hampshire's first innings

Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley had word of praise for debutant Muhammad Azharullah after his first stint with the ball in County colours.

The off-season signing, who replaced the rested Steven Crook in the starting XI for the Championship clash with Hampshire, took 3-59 from 19 overs as the visitors were bowled out for 206 after being put into bat.

And Ripley, who pushed for Azharullah’s signature to bolster the club’s seam bowling resources, liked what he saw.

He said: “I’m really pleased with Azhar, he’s been in good form for the Second XI but the benchmark is how he does in the first-class environment.

“He bowled with decent pace, he moved the ball and he got three good wickets.”

The Pakistani’s form leading up to the game played a part in his selection and Ripley acknowledged that other factors also came into play.

He continued: “He’s been chomping at the bit for a game and there was a bot of horses for courses about it.

“Steven (Crook) is more a cutting edge strike bowler and that’s what Azhar is.

“The balance of the side has been good this season and we wanted to keep it the same.”

As well as indicating that he is a good addition, Azharullah has also put down a marker for future weeks when Trent Copeland’s departure will leave a vacancy in the side.

Ripley said: “Lee Daggett was in the frame for this game and his kind of bowling is the closest to Trent’s but we just wanted to replace Steven with a like for like kind of bowler and Azhar looked the part which is good for us.”