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Babar Azam’s Press Conference: Insights into Pakistan’s T20 World Cup Strategy

Babar Azam's Press Conference: Insights into Pakistan's T20 World Cup Strategy

As the T20 World Cup casts its shadow, Pakistan captain Babar Azam held a press conference before the team’s departure for Ireland and the UK, their final preparation stage. The unwavering goal, as Azam reiterated, is to bring the trophy home, and the team exudes confidence in their abilities.

Questions naturally bombarded the captain, delving into Pakistan’s chances, squad selection, and the performance of the top order. Haris Rauf’s inclusion and Mohammad Haris’s absence were significant talking points. While Rauf’s fitness and determination were highlighted, Azam acknowledged that Haris might not have received the expected opportunities after the last World Cup.

For Haris Rauf, the skipper said,

“Haris Rauf’s fitness is much improved; I wasn’t expecting him to recover so fast. He’s positive about his involvement in the tournament and very driven to succeed. There’s pressure on him because there’s been a lot of talk about him, but I think he’ll come back strong. When you come back from a rest, mentally, physically, you can create quite an impact.”

Continuing to talk about batter Haris, Babar stated,

“He didn’t get a full opportunity after that World Cup but he belongs in the top order. In the top order, we already have [Mohammad] Rizwan, Fakhar [Zaman], Saim [Ayub] and myself. He got an opportunity in the PSL, but the way he wanted to execute, he couldn’t.

That doesn’t make him a bad player because it happens to every player at some point. We then discussed where we would play him. If we’d kept him in the side he’d have been forced to play in the lower-middle order. And then we went with the best possible collective combination.”

The captain explained that established players like Rizwan, Zaman, Ayub, and himself already occupy those slots. Haris’s performance in the PSL didn’t quite meet expectations, but Azam emphasized that this doesn’t define him as a player and that the team ultimately opted for the best possible collective combination.

Another point of curiosity was Hasan Ali’s recall and the exclusion of Zaman Khan. While Ali’s inclusion is primarily for backup purposes, Zaman Khan’s absence as a renowned death bowler raised eyebrows. Azam clarified that the decision involved input from all seven selectors, emphasizing that Zaman Khan, while a skilled bowler, falls into the new-ball category, an area already well-covered within the squad.

“With Hasan, the selectors have also clarified that he’s there as backup. He’s not guaranteed to be in the 15. He’s here because he has T20 experience and experience in general. Zaman Khan is among the best bowlers but he’s a new-ball bowler. We already have 3-4 bowlers with the new ball. No one’s here on one person’s recommendation; there are seven selectors and everyone gave their opinion before a decision was made.”

Discussions also touched upon Babar’s own position in the top order and the possibility of promoting more dynamic players. The captain defended his and Rizwan’s roles, highlighting their consistent performance during the Powerplay. He emphasized that selection decisions are driven by team goals, not individual preferences, and that collaboration with new white-ball coach Gary Kirsten is crucial in this regard.

“We’re not playing any personal games. We’ll do whatever’s best for the team. It’s not to do with individual players’ personal preferences. Whatever’s the best batting or bowling line-up for the team is the one we’ll go with. We’re in touch with Gary, and he has a lot of experience with coaching. From what I’ve said to him he understands what our line-up is and how we’re playing.

“The time for rotation is now a bit late because the World Cup is upon us. The matches we’ve got left, we’ll try to give a run out to the players and combination we want to have for the World Cup.

With the World Cup looming, rotation is no longer the primary focus. The remaining matches will serve as a platform to solidify the desired player combinations. As Azam stated,

“Everyone should have hope. We try to stay true to that hope. Because cricket is the one thing that puts everyone on the same page. It’s always on the back of my mind that everyone in Pakistan is on the same page. Our responsibility is to give our best of course and remain positive.”

The press conference echoed familiar themes of unwavering commitment and a shared national hope. However, amidst the familiar, there’s a palpable sense of anticipation for breaking new ground. Pakistan head into the final preparatory stage with a singular goal: to bring the T20 World Cup trophy home.

Also, see:

Who will open the innings for Pakistan in T20 World Cup 2024?

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