KARACHI: Pakistan’s preparation for next month’s ICC T20 World Championships in Australia is set to begin.
There is nothing better for the national team than welcoming England ahead of the away game for the first time in 17 years. The tour kicks off on Tuesday with the first of the seven Twenty20 Internationals here at the National Stadium.
The series will show how Pakistan gear up for the World Cup after a disappointing conclusion to their Asian Cup campaign in which they were beaten in the final by outsiders Sri Lanka.
Pakistani skipper Babar Azam was unexpectedly one of the team’s worst players during the tournament, scoring 68 runs in six games as the opener. The home series in England could get Babar going just in time and the right-hander is looking forward to getting back to his usual form.
“The series is important to me personally and I will try to get my form back [in it]’ Babar told reporters on Monday.
“It’s important not to think too much during a bad patch, and it’s important to keep things simple and keep believing.”
The number of games in the series is a delicious prospect not just for Babar but for the entire Pakistan squad and the skipper said it was important to make the most of the opportunity.
“England came after 17 years, it will be a big series,” said the 26-year-old. “We’re pretty excited as a team, seven games before the World Cup is a big deal and we’ll try to take advantage of that opportunity.”
The series also provides the perfect stage for Pakistani opening couple Babar and Mohammad Rizwan to shrug off the criticism they faced during the Asian Cup for failing to score big in the six power play overs.
Babar believes he and Rizwan don’t rely on a one-dimensional approach when they are on the brink and said their pairing has helped Pakistan win numerous games.
“Our inaugural partnership has been quite successful over the past two years,” he said. “The dynamic we create helps the middle order. When we hit, different scenarios, the conditions, the opponents, the requirements of the game come into play.
“The partnership has brought many achievements to Pakistan. If one of us gets off, the other tries to go to the end.”
The Pakistan captain stepped up to defend the middle class, who came under fire when Iftikhar Ahmed cost the national side the Asian Cup final with a nearly-circumferential 32.
Babar preferred to look on the bright side, citing mediocre performances by Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan against India and Afghanistan during the Super Four stage of the tournament.
“While I was worried about my own form, I was really happy that our middle class did well,” he said. “It got us big matches in different situations.”
PERFECT T20 WICKET
As the England series marks the start of Pakistan’s packed international season at home, new pitches have been prepared at the national stadium.
On all three training days, the players of both teams effortlessly practiced attack shots into the nets. Babar expects them to put on a good show for the fans. “The wickets are new and I think it’s going to be a good one, the perfect T20 wicket and there’s going to be good competition,” he said.
Goal money from the first T20 is to be donated to people affected by the recent floods that have devastated a third of the country. While England have announced their players and cricket board will raise funds for the victims, Babar said Pakistani players have also decided to donate match fees from their Asian Cup opening match.
“Humanity should prevail and it has because people have reached out to help as they always have when Pakistan has faced times like this,” said Babar, as Pakistan wear a brand new kit design in the series will introduced before the world Mug.
Published in Dawn, September 20, 2022