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We will be ready for World Cup, says T20 captain


July 4, 2020

KARACHI: It seems next to impossible that this year’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Australia will be held according to schedule.

The 16-nation spectacle is pencilled in from October 18 to November 15 but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is all likelihood that the tournament will be pushed to next year.

However, if the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the event’s Australian organisers somehow do manage to hold it according to schedule, 2009 champions Pakistan will be fully ready in their bid to regain the coveted title.

That’s despite the fact that the Pakistanis, who were the undisputed No.1 team in the T20I format till last year, were unable to impress much in their last few T20I outings.

But describing those defeats as a thing of the past, Babar Azam, Pakistan’s T20 captain, told ‘The News’ that his team will be ready for the World Cup.

“Of course we will be ready. We are a professional team and know the importance of major ICC tournaments,” Babar said from Worcester, where the Pakistanis are camped ahead of their three-Test series against England.

“Yes, we did lose a few matches and our ranking has unfortunately gone down. What happened is that we did some experimentation and tried out several players. We are now sure about the combination which includes both youth and experience. I’m confident that we will do well in the T20 series against England and improve our ranking.

“And if the World Cup is held according to schedule, I’m confident that our team will do well in it.”

Babar said that he was hoping that the T20 World Cup is not delayed.

“As a professional cricketer I hope that the T20 World Cup is held according to schedule. As Pakistan’s captain I would really want that the World Cup is not delayed as it will be my first World Cup as skipper. But it’s up to the authorities to decide.

On a different note, Babar said that he and fellow players will “immensely benefit” from the presence of the legendary quartet of Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed in the team management.

“I think myself and other players will benefit immensely benefit from their presence. They are four of our greatest legends. They have loads of experience. It’s our duty to learn from them and I’m sure all of us will do that.”

Babar, 25, also hoped to learn the art of captaincy from them.

“They were very experienced captains and I’m keen to learn the art of captaincy from them. They know all the ups and downs and I’m looking forward to gain from their knowledge.”

But despite the presence of such big names, Babar does miss his mentor Mickey Arthur, the former Pakistan coach who was replaced by Misbah after the national team failed to reach World Cup semi-finals last year.

“Mickey really supported me. He gave me confidence. He rated me highly even when I was very much a newcomer. He backed me all the time. The best thing about him was he had great trust in my abilities. I must add that Misbah Bhai is no different. He really backs me and has confidence in me. It really helps when your coach trusts you.”

Babar is regarded as Pakistan’s premier batsman and it is believed that he will have to play a key role if Pakistan are to succeed in England. But the problem is that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he hasn’t played competitive cricket for quite some time. How difficult will it be for Babar to give his best in the Tests?

“When you don’t play cricket for three months it does make a difference. But the good thing is that we have one extra month to prepare ourselves for the Tests. I was pleasantly surprised to see each and every boy was fit. That’s a good start. The next part is to play and practice as much as we can because the more you practice the better you get. We have lined up a series of training sessions and practice matches so I’m sure by the time the Test series begins we will be ready for it.”