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ODI World Cup 2023: 'We've done our research', says Pakistan's Babar Azam ahead of maiden India visit

Pakistan's ODI World Cup cricket team captain, Babar Azam, expresses confidence ahead of the ODI World Cup 2023, discusses team dynamics, and addresses the delay in India visas and player contracts.

ODI World Cup 2023: 'We've done our research', says Pakistan's Babar Azam ahead of maiden India visit snt
First Published Sep 26, 2023, 4:04 PM IST

Most of the Pakistan squad members have not played in India before, but skipper Babar Azam exuded confidence, saying his team has done its homework for the ODI World Cup beginning on October 5. Pakistan team's visas were finally cleared on Monday night, and the side will be reaching Hyderabad via Dubai on Wednesday. Only Mohammad Nawaz and Agha Salman have played in India before. Babar could not travel to India for the T20 World Cup in 2016 due to an injury.

"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," said Babar in the pre-departure media conference in Lahore.

"It is quite an honor for me to travel as the captain this time around, I hope we come back with a trophy this time," he added.

Azam, one of the leading batters in the game, will be expected to score a bagful of runs for his team in the ICC showpiece. He is especially looking forward to the big game against India in Ahmedabad on October 14.

"I am excited to play in Ahmedabad as it will be jam-packed. 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 [the teams I have to face] and make goals for myself. I try to set targets for myself, and then I give my 100% on 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," he said.

Pakistan, who looked like the team to beat before the start of the Asia Cup, returned empty-handed from the continental event won by India. Their star pacer Naseem Shah has been ruled out of the World Cup, and they have issues both in the bowling and batting department.

"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."

He stressed the need to back struggling players referring to the likes of Fakhar Zaman and Shadab Khan who did not have the best of times in the Asia Cup.

"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.

"You need to back your struggling player more because they are being criticized 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 of 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."

The India visas were delayed but are not something that gave additional stress to Babar.

"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," said the 28-year-old.

Babar said the team would be missing the services of injured pacer Naseem Shah. He also asserted that there is no bad blood in the dressing room following the Asia Cup disappointment.

"There is no ill will in the dressing room. There are discussions after every loss, but they get twisted into something else entirely. The entire team is like a family, and there is love and respect there."

Hasan Ali has been named Shah's replacement, and Babar said he was picked because of his rich experience.

"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 clearer to us when we travel to India and assess the conditions," Babar concluded.

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