Babar Azam: It is quite an honor for me to travel as the captain; I hope we come back with a trophy this time
The majority of the Pakistani team has never played in India, but skipper Babar Azam voiced confidence on Tuesday, claiming his team has prepared for the ODI World Cup, which starts on October 5 while the Pakistani team’s visas were finally approved on Monday night, and they will travel to Hyderabad on Wednesday via Dubai.
The majority of the Pakistani team has never played in India, but skipper Babar Azam voiced confidence on Tuesday, claiming his team has prepared for the ODI World Cup, which starts on October 5.
The Pakistani team’s visas were finally approved on Monday night, and they will travel to Hyderabad on Wednesday via Dubai. In the past, only Mohammad Nawaz and Agha Salman have played in India. Due to an injury, Babar was unable to visit India for the 2016 T20 World Cup.
“Although we have not played in India before, we are not taking too much pressure. We have done our research and we have heard the conditions are similar to how they play out in other Asian countries,”said Babar in the pre-departure media conference.
“It is quite an honor for me to travel as the captain this time around, I hope we come back with a trophy this time,” he added.
Azam, one of the world’s top batters, will be counted on to score a lot of runs for his team in the ICC mega event. He is very excited for the high-octane clash against India on October 14 in Ahmedabad.
“I am excited to play in Ahmedabad as it will be jam-packed. I will try my best to perform up to my potential. I am not worried about my individual accolades, I want to make sure whatever I do helps the result for the team … Whenever there is a tour coming up, I spend some time planning for it. I prepare according to [the teams I have to face] and make goals for myself. I try to set targets for myself and then I give my 100% on the ground.
“It is a chance to become a hero as every World Cup performance gives you a different kind of confidence. Everyone is at their best during the World Cup, so whenever you perform there, it is an altogether different feeling,”he said.
Before the start of the Asia Cup, Pakistan appeared to be the team to beat, but it was left empty-handed as India won the competition. They have problems both in the bowling and batting departments, and their star bowler Naseem Shah has been ruled out of the World Cup.
“We know we have lapsed in fielding and our wicket-taking abilities in the middle overs but we are going to work on it and hopefully, will not be repeating them as we have made plans accordingly … The more you play cricket, the more you learn.”
He emphasized the need to support struggling players, including Shadab Khan and Fakhar Zaman, who did not have the best of times during the Asia Cup.
“When you are playing well and are in form, you wish to keep playing. But when you are making mistakes, it is different. You assess that differently, you have to work on it especially if a key player is struggling.
“You need to back your struggling player more because they are being criticized from the outside. Giving them confidence in the dressing room becomes even more important because these are the same boys who have won you consistently.
“There has been a lot of criticism of the spinners (Shadab and Nawaz). They have had a few bad days but they are not ordinary players. It is not easy to play for the Pakistan team—they have gotten here on the back of their performances. I have full faith in them.”
The India visas were delayed but are not something that gave additional stress to Babar.
“The visas are here, as far as I know, so we should be good to go. As far as the (player) contracts are concerned, they are still being negotiated, but we are hopeful they will work out as the PCB always has our interests at heart,”said the 28-year-old. Babar said the team will be missing the services of injured pacer Naseem Shah.
Hasan Ali has been named Shah’s replacement and Babar said he was picked because of his rich experience.
“Of course, we will miss Naseem Shah as Shaheen [Afridi] and Naseem bowling together gave us a different edge. It was not easy to pick his replacement, but we all sat together and got input from [chief selector] Inzamam ul Haq.
“We went with Hasan Ali because he has experience. He has played in the World Cup before. I cannot comment on who will bowl the new ball or the old ball, as we cannot reveal our strategies right now.
“But we have not made any concrete plans right now. It will become clearer to us when we travel to India and assess the conditions,”Babar concluded.
BCCI confirmed that the official World Cup warm-up match between Pakistan and New Zealand scheduled for September 29 in Hyderabad, is to be played behind closed doors on the advice of the local security agency.
The match in Hyderabad coincides with festivals on the day and large gatherings are expected around the city. The fans who purchased game tickets will be given a complete refund.
Pakistan squad for World Cup: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim.