Ahead of the T20 series against England, Pakistan captain Babar Azam has brushed aside concerns about the top-order’s form. Azam stressed that their opening partnership has been hugely successful and that they have won several games.
Pakistan’s batters have faced criticism due to their lack of intent after their defeat to Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup final. The Men in Green failed to chase 170 in favorable conditions as keeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan couldn’t accelerate at the right time.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the opening T20I on Tuesday (September 20), the Pakistan skipper said that one needs to understand the context behind such criticism as they must play according to the situation. Azam underlined that one of the openers always tries to bat throughout the innings.
“Our opening partnership has been highly successful in the last two years. See, there are different situations and scenarios and how batters must perform, what the team requires, how the conditions are, what are the plans, and how you must play against different oppositions.”
“There’s a plan and you don’t change the game entirely, but raise it. We try that in every game and I think our opening partnership has been good in the last two years. It has helped the team and Pakistan because when you gain momentum, the middle-order continues it.
“Whenever one of us gets out, the other tries to stay till the end and play around the other batters.”
When asked about Herschelle Gibbs’ suggestion of improving his strike rate, Azam responded:
“I don’t think there was ever a conversation like that. When I play for Karachi Kings, my strike rate used to go up and down, in the range of 130-135. Sometimes you play with a low strike rate, depending upon the situation.”
Responding to the dot-ball issue, the right-handed batter acknowledged that it was a problem during the Asia Cup. However, Azam feels optimistic that it won’t come between their pursuit of chasing and posting big scores. He said:
“See, it’s the same as it depends upon the situation. We have even chased 200 and scored 200 batting first as well. When you have partnerships and the top-order takes the game deep, you can chase down 200 and rack up 200.
“I admit the dot ball issue was there in the Asia Cup, but we didn’t lose the final because of that. I think past performances have been at this strike rate. As a team, we have spoken about this and our aim to step up in this aspect.”
Babar Azam, who entered the Asia Cup as the top-ranked T20I batter, endured a torrid time. The Lahore-born cricketer managed only 68 runs in six games at 11.33. The 2009 T20 champions will hope to have their star batter regain his form ahead of the T20 World Cup 2022 next month.
“The main thing is to believe in oneself” – Babar Azam plots his return to form
Azam vowed to be back amongst the runs against England, claiming that the key to bouncing back from a lean patch is to believe in yourself and avoid outside noise.
“During a bad patch, all you do is try to avoid overthinking and keep things simple. The main thing is to believe in oneself. You have done it in the past and you will do it in the future, but sometimes it may happen and other times it may not.
“The significant thing is to apply all the good things and the second is to avoid listening to criticism. It’s a vital series from my own perspective. I’ll try my best to return to form and as a team, this series before the World Cup will help us a lot.”
Pakistan and England will lock horns in the first of the seven T20Is in Karachi on Tuesday.