Babar Azam all set for African safari

Pakistan cricket team captain Babar Azam has said that the team was geared up to carry on the winning momentum in the upcoming white-ball cricket series against South Africa and perform well during the African safari.

Details of Pakistan tour of South Africa

Pakistan team is due to play three ODIs and four T20Is against South Africa besides three T20Is and two test matches against Zimbabwe during the back-to-back away series in March-April 2021. Pakistan team will depart for South Africa on March 26 while it will leave for Bulawayo on April 12.

During a virtual media conference prior to the practice session for the SA and Zimbabwe tours at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore on Friday, he said the ODI series was all important for being part of the ICC Men’s World Cup Super League and would provide an opportunity to win the series and improve ranking besides ensuring direct qualification.

Babar accepted the fact that South Africans are a strong side on their home soil and the Subcontinent teams often struggle in South Africa, claiming that the young team was capable of giving good performance on the away tour. “Batsmen are ready to put up big scores on the board during the tour so that the bowlers could defend it,” Babar responded.

About lack of practice, the prolific batsman said Pakistan played their last ODI match against Zimbabwe in November 2020, adding that the squad was scheduled to play 2 practice matches during the camp in Lahore which will help gell as the team, while the team will have four days before the first ODI against the Proteas on April 2.

“However, Babar maintained that both the T20Is and test match series were equally important as these will provide youngsters an opportunity to make their mark besides chances to improve test ranking,” said Babar, adding that the performances will also help selection for the upcoming West Indies and New Zealand home series.

On any differences with the management, the all-format captain said there are no differences with the management on team selection but stressed that the discussions of official meetings should remain within the four walls of the room.

Regarding his captaincy, Babar said he was in control of things as he has been leading the team for almost two years now, adding he always picks the best eleven to field. On seven players who joined pre-departure camp, he welcomed the new entrants to the camp and expressed the hope the players will harness their skills to be available for team selection when needed.

Taking ownership of selection of Sharjeel Khan in the South Africa bound T20 squad despite questions on his fitness, he said he asked to pick Sharjeel Khan for the tour as he could change complexion of the game with his power-hitting and the batsman has been working on his fitness which is not bad for the shorter format of the game.

However, Babar Azam clarified that Sharjeel Khan will have to improve his fitness under the coaches if he desired to be selected for other formats. When asked whether his private life might affect his focus on cricket, Babar Azam said since his personal mater was sub judice, he would refrain to comment on that.

On psychological challenges of quarantine during away tours, he said quarantine is a difficult period for sportsmen but we have acclamitised to the situations in the past. He said we spend time together in the team room which helps us to overcome stress, adding that the team will produce better results than the New Zealand tour.

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