Says their experience will come in handy for Pakistan
Presence of senior players in the Pakistan squad for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is very important for the team, skipper Babar Azam has said.
Veteran all-rounders Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik and wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed — all former captains — are part of Pakistan’s touring party for the T20 World Cup, which is said to be held in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Malik and Sarfraz were included two days ahead of the squad submission deadline after wicket-keeper Azam Khan was axed from the initial roster announced in September and batsman Sohaib Maqsood was ruled out injured.
Babar believed their selection is justified and the trio’s experience will come in handy for the national side.
“All players who have been selected have performed in the domestic tournament [National T20 Cup],” said the captain. “The presence of senior players in the dressing room is very important and junior players should try to learn from them since they have a lot of experience.
“They’ve played enough World Cups and many leagues.”
Babar said Hafeez and Malik are very experienced and that they show it in the matches and are match winners on the day. “In fact, all players in our team are match winners.”
Babar said the team is not fully new and some players in the squad have played together in Pakistan’s triumphant ICC Champions Trophy run in 2017 and the 2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. The combination, the batsman said, will add to the team’s confidence.
“There are seven to eight players in the squad who have played the World Cup and Champion’s Trophy together and that’s something which gives us confidence,” said Babar. “We’ll move forward together with the new players.”
Babar expressed his confidence in his and Mohammad Rizwan’s pair as Pakistan’s openers in the T20 format. He said the national side’s batting line-up will play around them.
“There’s a responsibility on us because of people’s expectations,” he said. “Our goal in every match is to stay in the middle as long as possible and if one of us loses their wicket, then the other is expected to carry forward till the end so that the whole team can play around him.”
Pakistan kick off their T20 World Cup campaign against archrivals India in a high-voltage Super-12 Group ‘2’ encounter at the Dubai Cricket Stadium on October 24.
Babar admitted that it will be a high-pressure match but said it was important to stay calm.
“The match between India and Pakistan is always a high-intensity match and there’s a lot of pressure,” said the 26-year-old. “However, as a team, we try to stay focused on cricket. The more calm we are the better it will be for us but we have to perform on the day.”
Pakistan’s record against India is extremely poor in the World Cups. They have lost all their matches against their bitter rivals in the prestigious event.
Babar believed the past did not matter and the squad is only preparing for the upcoming matches.
“What matters in big events is your belief and your confidence as a group and I believe our morale is quite high,” said the skipper. “We are not thinking about whatever has happened in the past and we are preparing for the future.
“I’m very confident that we will play good cricket on the day,” he said.