By our correspondent
RAWALPINDI: Despite losing some key players due to injuries and covid ahead of the first Test against Australia which will begin here at the Pindi Stadium on Friday (tomorrow) Pakistan captain Babar Azam is confident to play good cricket and give tough time to the Aussies who are on Pakistan’s tour after long 24 years.
“Definitely, we are very excited as Australia has come after 24 years and the way our Test players have prepared in Karachi. They played a practice game there also and prepared well and then we also utilized the first three days here with focus. Definitely there will be good matches. We will carry on our momentum and will give tough time to Australia,” Babar said in his pre-match news conference today.
Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali got injured while Haris Rauf was ruled out of the first Test due to covid. But the skipper is confident to field the best side.
“Definitely our combination got disturbed due to injuries to Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali. Faheem used to contribute in both bowling and batting while Hasan is one of the best bowlers and has won many matches for Pakistan. Effort will be made to play the best combination. Shaheen is in form and so is Naseem Shah. Our top-order batsmen including Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam and Rizwan are also in great touch. I am confident we will play good cricket and give tough time to Australia,” Babar said.
Despite injuries issues Babar is confident they will focus on cricket.
“For the past few days some of our players got injured and some were tested positive but this is part of life. As a captain I am strong enough to set these things aside and focus on cricket,” said Babar.
Branding Australia as one of the best sides, Babar said the visitors cannot be taken easy.
“Yes, Australia are one of the best sides. You cannot take them easy. They have a lot of experienced players in their squad. We have planned against them and inshaAllah you will see good cricket,” Babar conceded.
Babar said they have worked with focus during the last three days. “In Test cricket you need different frame of mind. You have to bat and bowl differently. As we have come from T20 and had three days at our disposal which we utilized well and are in good shape,” the skipper said. “We have the belief and are very excited. The matches will be tough. We will continue with the same momentum we had in our last series against Bangladesh. We will try to utilize home conditions and give tough time to the visitors,” Babar said.
Despite having played their last Test series against Bangladesh more than a month back Babar is unperturbed, saying, this will be no issue and their players knew about the Test series against Australia and have prepared.
“As a professional it is not difficult for you because you have in front the schedule of the whole year. All players knew that their Test series was in line and for that they also prepared. Even this thing was in mind during PSL and bowlers, who would bowl four overs in the match, would bowl six overs during practice keeping in mind the Test series. Similarly, batsmen did extra batting. I think boys are prepared. I don’t think about the past and focus more on the future,” Babar explained. “I am fully confident that I will have my best side and through which we will fight. As far as my batting is concerned so I am confident and will put in my best,” Babar said.
Babar expects the same kind of Pindi pitch which had been prepared for the South Africa series during which Pakistan had played with three pacers and two spinners.
“Yes, there will be similar conditions. We will have to see what will be weather during the next week and we will plan accordingly with which combination we should go,” Babar said.
Babar said that they will finalise the squad after they will look at the track on Friday (tomorrow).
“We have not yet finalized the squad and we will decide it tomorrow when we will see the pitch again,” the skipper said.
He hoped that Pindi track will suit both pacers and spinners.
“Definitely fast bowlers will get some help in Rawalpindi but spinners also have an important role and I think both will get assistance,” Babar said.
Terming Yasir Shah as Pakistan’s best bowler, Babar said his services will be utilized in the series when he will get his hundred percent fitness.
“Yasir had some fitness issues and had been invited to the camp. He is in reserves and work is being done on him. During the last two months he did not play cricket and so he is being given work on his fitness. He is one of the best bowlers and he has won many matches for us. Yes, he is on our radar and whenever we will need him, he will be utilized once he becomes hundred percent fit,” Babar said.