Monday October 02, 2023

Pakistan tested bench strength during NZ series,says Babar

May 09, 2023

KARACHI: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam cited losing four quick wickets as the reason behind the 47-run defeat in the fifth ODI against New Zealand that not only prevented the Greenshirts from completing the whitewash, but also led to a dip in the ranking from the top spot to number three within the two days.

“We lost four quick wickets. Iftikhar Ahmed and Agha Salman steered the innings with a good partnership, but after Agha, we lost successive wickets. Had someone stayed with Iftikhar, things could have been different,” said Babar after the match, 100th of his ODI career.

“The series was good. Some individual performances were on display. Our aim was to complete the whitewash. It didn’t happen unfortunately,” Babar said. It should be noted that New Zealand were without their key players who were busy playing IPL.

Babar said Pakistan also tried different players. “You can’t play a team thinking it’s weak. At international level, you have to give your 100%. They have seasoned players, and at no time did it look like we were playing a weak team,” Babar explained.

“We tested our bench strength and different combinations in all areas. Keeping the World Cup in mind, we tested some players," the star batter stated. About finalising the squad for the mega-event, Babar said: “At the back of your mind, you have 15-20 players. We have the players in our mind. When the event is near, you will know.”

Asked whether the change in coaching set-up has brought a big change in terms of tactics, environment and plans, Babar replied: “No there isn’t a big change. The team environment is normal. They have worked with us before, so they know what to do. Things are heading in the positive direction as every player is getting support.”

After winning the fourth ODI, Pakistan reached the number 1 spot in the ICC ODI team rankings, but a surprising defeat in the last game caused the team to slip to third spot. “If we have slipped to number three, we reached number one as well two days ago. We played a good series, but couldn’t finish it well. Batting wasn’t good in the last game, and we will work on it,” he said.