Boys are in good shape, says Babar Azam; believes Pakistan’s pace-battery can unsettle England

From our correspondent 

KARACHI: Pakistan’s Test vice-captain and one-day and T20 captain Babar Azam on Thursday (today) said that he is happy that the boys are in good shape despite resuming their training after three months due to COVID-19.

“The best thing which I have seen here is that the boys are in good shape as far as fitness is concerned,” Babar said at the teleconference.

“We were thinking how we would apply various things if we practice after three months. In my opinion boys have responded well in batting and bowling and are enjoying. You know we have been quarantined and not allowed to go outside so we are living together. We are enjoying here, playing games and spend time with each other. We spend most of the time on the ground and do discussion and are doing many things,” Babar said.

He said that performing in England conditions gives confidence.

“Here Duke ball is used which suits the conditions here. And when you perform here against England strong bowling  attack it takes your confidence level to new height and helps you perform against other countries. Every player wants to perform and see his name among the world’s greats and this is also my desire,” Babar responded to a query.

Babar said that effort would be made to win the series.

“In the previous few series we checked new players and so lost some matches and this time the team has both experienced and young players and effort would be made to win the series here and set the tone” he said. However he was quick to add that initially the focus is on tests and then will try to win the three T20s and regain the spot.

He said it is of no use if his performance  as a captain does not guide his side to a win.

“As a player when you perform individually it looks spicy for you but as a captain when you perform and your team loses so I think it is of no use,” Babar said.

“And my focus would be to gift win to my team through my performance,” Babar was quick to add.

“We have drawn our previous two series. If you see our previous home series we had extended outstanding performance and we have come here by carrying that confidence. After a few days practice I am very confident. Our players are very hungry for cricket and for winning matches,” the right-handed batsman said.

“Everyone is giving 110 percent in their workout in their respective departments. In fielding too they are giving 110 percent. When we are together we discuss various things and have started planning and it’s a good sign for us,” he said.

“There is no issue here. We are following the SOP protocol. Our main focus is on our working and more we will apply ourselves to the conditions would benefit us in the end,” he said.

“The point is that here conditions suit England. They would have a slight edge over us. But our bowling quick including Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah and Abbas are fairly good.. Abbas is experienced and knows about the conditions. Naseem has bowled outstandingly so far and Shaheen has been prolific. He bowled extremely well in Australia and also did a fine job in England. I am confident our bowling is fairly good and will give tough time to England,” he said.

Babar said they are learning how to play along with the SOPs.

“Difficulty is there during COVID-19. We have to keep distance on the ground, we cannot go out, go to gym in six players groups, you cannot use sweat for shining the ball. We are trying to adjust to the conditions and will try to follow these things.,” Babar said.

When asked that playing against West Indies will give edge to England over Pakistan Babar said: “We will check both England and the West Indies how they play in new conditions and how they follow rules in the COVID-19 and we will learn from them. Moreover we will also play matches and the more we will play matches the more we will come into shape,” he said.

Babar said that they would try to get England fragile top order soon to put pressure on them.

“As England top order is not performing so well so our focus would be to get some early wickets and bring them under pressure as their bowling is good,” he said.

“Both Younis and Misbah gave us batting plan. Both have played more cricket here and our main task would be to learn from them. When we face any technical issue we consult them and we are learning from them,” Babar said while responding to a question who from the duo give them batting tips.

When asked that England quick Archer may trouble him Babar said, “When you go to any country you plan as a batsman keeping in mind the bowling strength of the oppositions. I am working on these things. I look at the ball and don’t play with the name of the bowler. I am working individually on certain things for the last two days,” he said.

About stumper Mohammad Rizwan Babar said: “Yes Rizwan has performed very well in Australia and was with us during homes series. He has recovered and is joining us. I think he should get proper chance and he will be the priority when he comes and joins us,” he said.

Explaining English batting conditions Babar said: “The main difference here is that here conditions matter. When the weather is cloudy the ball starts swinging and when it becomes hot it behaves normal. So we are working with Younis how to play in both phases and we are getting ample help,” Babar said.

Babar said he would feel proud if compared with Pakistani batsmen rather than Indian star Virat Kohli.

“When you compare me with any player so it will be good if you compare me with Pakistani players as there is Javed Miandad, Younis Khan, Misbah Bhai, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf. I would feel proud if compare with them,” he said.

“Yes desire is always there to play big innings. When you score hundred so you go for 150, then 200 and so on. Desire is always there for big innings and InshaAllah will try to score 300,” he said.

Responding to a query Babar said: “No, always captain and team management have been on the same page and collectively decide the things. Yes experienced players have performed here in the past and as a captain whenever I will need their advice I will go towards them and consult with them,” 

When asked that Saeed Ajmal recently stated that these players have no potential to win series in England Babar said: “I also mentioned before that every one has his own opinion. We are very confident and gelled and know about our weaknesses. The long we will get gelled it will benefit us,” Babar said.

He also congratulated sports journalists on the world sports journalists day. Pakistan will face England in the three Tests and three T20s series in August-September.

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