Pakistan Test captain Shan Masood said Wednesday that the team does not have any plans to fiddle with the batting position of Babar Azam, who he termed the "best batter" in the national squad.
“Our Test team is settled and the World Test Championship has already started on that note,” said Masood while addressing a press conference ahead of the team’s departure for Australia.
He hinted that the team would stick with the opening pair of Abdullah Shafique and Imam Ul Haq and he would bat at number 3.
“Babar Azam is the best batter in the side and you build your team around your best batter so his position will not be tinkered with. Similar to Saim, Khurram Shehzad and Mir Hamza have been awarded for their domestic performances. As for Haris Rauf, you can request for a player but the discretion lies with the player and if they are unavailable, you have to make peace with it,” he added.
The newly-appointed captain for the longer format of the game further stated that the team for the Australia Test tour was selected under a “due process” and his job was made easier as everyone was on the same page.
He said that they “will not be making many changes to the settled team” but the squad will travel to Australia “with the intent to win so that will reflect in how the team plays”.
“When the team is settled, you only make changes if conditions or injuries demand it. We may drop a spinner to play an extra batter but we have to keep in mind that you need five bowlers to take 20 wickets in a Test match so our priority would be fielding a team that can score runs and take 20 wickets in each game.
As a team, we will take responsibility for the result and try to learn from our mistakes every day while we are on the tour,” said Masood.
To a question on the presence of past captains in the team, Masood said it was not new for him as he has been in such a situation before when leading a team.
“I take that as a positive thing as they make your job easier, in my opinion. We don’t have just one leader in the team. Previously, when I captained Multan Sultans, I had players like Moeen Ali who had captaincy experience."
"As far as the current team is concerned, players like Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Babar Azam all have leadership experience, which means there is a lot more insight at offer, especially on the field."
"We can only grow as a team when we all play as leaders and contribute where we can best as per the requirements of Pakistan team,” he said.
On his relationship with his predecessor, Babar, Masood said that he enjoys a “really good relationship” with him on and off the field.
On Sarfraz Ahmed’s presence in the squad, he said that his presence is “very important” as the wicketkeeper batter changed the “style in Pakistan’s batting”.
“Whether it be Sarfaraz, Rizwan or Babar, their expertise will help Pakistan in Australia, which is a positive thing for us as we will be needing their experience on the challenging tour,” said Masood.
When asked about the bowling, the captain admitted that the attack was not as “well settled” as they would have liked with Naseem Shah’s absence.
“Our success in Sri Lanka came due to Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah bowling together as the two of them brought us wickets up top and in the middle too. Haris Rauf could have helped with his pace but he is not available either. Our fast bowling combination will only become clear once we arrive in Australia,” said Masood.
Masood held the press conference at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore ahead of the team’s tour to Australia.
The Pakistan squad is set to depart from Lahore in the early hours of November 30 and will be playing three Test matches in Australia, scheduled from December 14, 2023 to January 7, 2024.
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