Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said on Sunday that the “highly successful” training camp at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul had strengthened unity among the players and made them “better, fitter and mentally tougher athletes”.

He made the remarks in a press release shared by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Sunday.

Earlier, the PCB said the camp — organised in collaboration with the army — was “strategically designed to prepare the players for the upcoming series and tournaments,” including the home T20I series against New Zealand and the forthcoming ICC T20 World Cup in the USA and West Indies.

The board had sent 29 players — including Babar, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi — to the training camp at PMA Kakul on March 26. All-rounder Imad Wasim and pacer Mohammad Amir — both of whom had recently announced their decision to end their retirement from international cricket — had also participated in the camp.

In the statement issued today, the PCB said that players underwent training and drills designed by army experts and strategists.

“Under the guidance of experienced trainers and coaches, the players underwent a comprehensive training regime tailored to elevate their fitness levels, agility, leadership, strategic thinking and overall performance on the field,” the board said.

In the press release, Babar was quoted as saying that this was his third boot camp and he had “gleaned new insights” with each one.

“This time, our focus extended beyond physical fitness to encompass team bonding activities and performance-improving lectures. These elements are crucial considering our team environment where collective performance is paramount for achieving desired results,” he said.

“The notable deviation from previous camps was the absence of cricket-centric activities. Instead, the emphasis was squarely on physical conditioning, teamwork and mental resilience,” he said, adding that all players had experienced “significant growth”.

“I’m confident that we will return to competitive cricket as better, fitter and mentally tougher athletes, thereby enhancing our overall performance,” he said.

“Unlike our usual routine during other camps and international series, we engaged in confidence-building exercises and team-building activities. Notably, we opted to share rooms, facilitating deeper connections among team members.

“These shared spaces fostered discussions ranging from strategic planning and team combinations to the evolution of cricket, latest innovations in the sport, analysis of opponents and our approach to each day’s challenges,” Babar said.

“Given the upcoming cricket fixtures, this camp proves exceptionally valuable. It not only mitigates injury risks but also augments both individual skills and collective team performance,” he said.

Other players joined the skipper in lauding the camp. Fast-bowler Naseem Shah said, “There was a significant emphasis on physical fitness […] I believe we have successfully met our objectives, and I’ll return as a fitter and more adept athlete.”

Meanwhile, Imad stated, “These sessions and drills were markedly different from cricket-related training […] we dedicated extra hours that I’m confident will benefit us all in match situations.”

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