The ODI WC 2023 is ongoing and everything is in place to hold world cricket’s 50-over international in India. The colorful political and sports history between India and Pakistan makes every potential tour a hotly-debated topic.
Team Pakistan skipper recently replied to questions at a long interview session ahead of their first game against the Netherlands in Hyderabad on October 6, 2023. He touched on several topics about unfamiliar conditions, team form, player injuries, Hasan Ali late call-up, and more.
Babar Azam on Playing in India at ODI WC 2023
The skipper revealed Pakistan are not under pressure ahead of their games in India and feels honored to travel as the captain this time around:
“Although we have not played in India before, we are not taking too much pressure. We have done our research and we have heard the conditions are similar to how they play out in other Asian countries…It is quite an honour for me to travel as the captain this time around, I hope we come back with a trophy this time,”
Azam expressed his excitement at facing India in Ahmedabad and believes his performances will be evident in that game:
“I am excited to play in Ahmedabad as it will be jampacked. I will try my best to perform up to my potential. I am not worried about my individual accolades, I want to make sure whatever I do helps the result for the team …
“Whenever there is a tour coming up, I spend some time planning for it. I prepare according to [opposing teams] and make goals for myself. I try to set targets for myself and then I give my 100% in the ground.
“It is a chance to become a hero as every World Cup performance gives you a different kind of confidence. Everyone is at their best during the World Cup, so whenever you perform there, it is an altogether different feeling,”
Azam on Fielding Problems
Skipper Azam also talked about Pakistan’s fielding struggles and how they plan to combat this issue:
“We know we have lapsed in fielding and in our wicket-taking abilities in the middle overs but we are going to work on it and hopefully, will not be repeating them as we have made plans accordingly … The more you play cricket, the more you learn.”
“When you are playing well and are in-form, you wish to keep playing. But when you are making mistakes, it is different. You assess that differently, you have to work on it especially if a key player is struggling.
Azam on Struggling Players
Pakistan’s drop in form was evident at the Asia Cup 2023. The skipper babar believes everything is in place to see a resurgence in form and he trusts all struggling players to eventually deliver:
“You need to back your struggling player more because they are being criticised from the outside. Giving them confidence in the dressing room becomes even more important because these are the same boys who have won you consistently.
“There has been a lot of criticism on the spinners (Shadab and Nawaz). They have had a few bad days but they are not ordinary players. It is not easy to play for the Pakistan team—they have gotten here on the back of their performances. I have full faith in them.”
Azam on Visas and Player Contracts
It took a while for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to finalize visa arrangements for their players. Captain Azam talked about that in the interview and also shed light on the public contract spat between players and the PCB:
“The visas are here, as far as I know, so we should be good to go. As far as the (player) contracts are concerned, they still being negotiated, but we are hopeful they will work out as the PCB always has our interests at heart,”
Naseem Shah Injury and Hasan Ali Selection
A shock injury to Naseem Shah means experienced bowler Hasan Ali will take his place at the ODI WC 2023. Captain Azam shed light on Hasan’s addition and why he’s the best fit for Pakistan at ODI cricket:
“Of course we will miss Naseem Shah as Shaheen [Afridi] and Naseem bowling together gave us a different edge. It was not easy to pick his replacement, but we all sat together and got input from [chief selector] Inzamam ul Haq.
“We went with Hasan Ali because he has experience. He has played the World Cup before. I cannot comment who will bowl the new ball or the old ball, as we cannot reveal our strategies right now. “But we have not made any concrete plans right now. It will become more clear to us when we travel to India and assess the conditions,”