Pakistan were swept in the one-day international series between the sides in the run-up to the World Cup, lost to Afghanistan in the warm-up match and were rolled over for 105 in their tournament opener against West Indies. However, they remain convinced they are firm contenders for the title.
If they do get the better of favourites England at Trent Bridge, it won't be an upset, Azhar insisted. "We can beat them. It's not an upset. We have ability to beat them.
"If you see the one-day series, we were not that far from England. They scored 1430-odd (1424) runs, we scored 1370 (1356) runs, so we were 70 runs short. Unfortunately our fielding was not up to the mark and we give extra bonus because we have an inexperienced bowling line-up.
"The 480 pitch has been a world record pitch, but they have to play 300 balls to get to that record, but we have to bowl 10 good balls to get 10 wickets," he said, referring to the record total of 481 England posted against Australia on this ground last year. "We have ability, we have the skills to do that, and hopefully we can do it."
Pakistan were undone by West Indies' short-ball strategy, and expected more of the same against England. They were as ready to dish it out themselves.
📍 Nottingham— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) June 2, 2019
Pakistan were put through their paces ahead of the game against England tomorrow, as they attempt to bounce back after a disappointing opening loss to their #CWC19 campaign. #WeHaveWeWill pic.twitter.com/0rlX8Db6dV
"We didn't handle the short bowl really well," he said, dismissing it as a "bad day". "If you see the last game, at least we bowled a lot of short balls and we mixed that up, so definitely we can do that. We've got bowlers who can bowl 140 plus, so they can do the same thing to England batters."
Eoin Morgan, the England captain, was wary of the Pakistan threat, despite their recent success against the team. "We prepare for Pakistan at their best," he said.
"We've certainly seen them only two years ago, they were the best side in the world in the Champions Trophy. They turned us over, they turned India over, who were contenders, as well, for the Champions Trophy, so we'll be preparing as best we can for their A game."