LAHORE: Pakistan limited-overs captain Babar Azam vowed on Thursday his main focus is to win the Twenty20 series against second-ranked England instead of worrying about positives from the three matches at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Addressing a virtual media conference on eve of the first game, the 25-year-old Babar — who has won two and lost as many T20 Internationals since taking the reins from Sarfaraz Ahmed late last year — said: “We are confident of victory and every player is hungry for success. And if one remains positive good results are possible.
“Moreover, we’ll taking positives from the Test series [won 1-0 by England] because we learnt a great deal and we will go out with the same spirit in the T20 series. But our main target is to win the series.”
Pakistan were the No.1 side in this format when Babar replaced the struggling Sarfaraz, who was instrumental guiding the national side to the top. Under Babar, Pakistan lost two of the three matches in Australia before winning both fixtures against Bangladesh in Lahore.
Currently Pakistan are ranked fourth but Babar — who is now one of the top batsmen in international cricket — has been in excellent form as the T20 skipper with three half-centuries in those five matches.
The young captain, who averages a superb 50.72 in the shortest form, said he was also expecting the seniors like ex-skippers Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez to contribute big runs.
Commenting on team’s lack of putting up decent totals of late, Babar remarked: “That is a big issue for Pakistan. But our target is to score at least 160-plus to allow our bowlers something to bowl at. We have been urging the players to play without any fear, knowing how good England are. To achieve our objective the senior players [Malik and Hafeez] must put up their hands and perform.”
Babar, who is yet to score a ton at this level with an unbeaten 97 against the West Indies at Karachi in 2018 being his best effort, said his goal was to reach three figures in T20 cricket during the coming matches.
“I am not under any sort of pressure just because of being considered [by experts] as the main source of run-getter for Pakistan. I will stick to my own game plan to give my maximum for the team,” Babar, whose average is second only to India captain Virat Kohli’s 50.80, stressed. “I do want to spend more time at the crease so that our team put up more runs on the board.”
Babar said it is just the mind-set to switch from red-ball to white-ball cricket and many players are in good shape because they are busy playing T20 matches. “We got just a day for practice as a unit before the T20 series but to make adjustment to a different format is just a mind-set.”
Commenting uncapped Haider Ali, Babar said the youngster is an outstanding batting talent but he is unsure whether he would get the chance against Eoin Morgan’s side.
Babar rated England as a dangerous team and would not take them lightly.
Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2020