Buoyant Pakistan take on host US today

Despite the hiccups, Babar Azam is optimistic and look focused on winning T20 World Cup

Hamza Khan June 06, 2024
‘WELL PREPARED’: Babar Azam and co. aims to cross the line in the tournament. Photo: AFP/File


Unpredictable Pakistan under the leadership of Babar Azam will begin their quest for the coveted T20 World Cup trophy when they take on co-host the United States in Dallas today. 

The team touched down in Dallas five days ago and since then they failed to train properly due to bad weather, which has been chasing the Men in Green since their stint in England. 

Despite the hiccups, the Pakistan captain was optimistic and looked focused on winning the T20 World Cup 2024 saying that they came ‘well prepared’.

"What my team requires of me is my commitment, rather than focusing on personal records," said Babar while speaking to media during the final practice session. "We have come to the United States well-prepared. We have a clear mindset on what kind of game we would play. Our aim is to perform well in the World Cup and achieve success."

It is the new venue for majority of the sides, as for the first time an international cricket event is being played at the USA soil. This poses a new challenge for all the teams. 

However, Babar was quite confident that this won’t be an issue for the Men in Green, who he believes that have tackled such conditions in the past. 

"Our batters have been training indoors and bowlers have been honing their skills on the field," he remarked, highlighting the optimum utilisation of available facilities for practice. 

"If there are no warm-up matches, it made us no difference as we have been constantly playing," he stressed.

"Some of our players have previously played in the US. This gives them an understanding of the conditions here," he said, adding that all-rounders Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim and fast bowler Haris Rauf have an experience of playing here.

Setback for Pakistan

With combination still undecided, Pakistan suffered an injury setback in the shape of all-rounder Imad Wasim, who ruled out from the opening game of the campaign with a side strain. 

Imad, who made a comeback in New Zealand T20Is earlier this year after an impressive Pakistan Super League season, also missed the series decider against England. 

"Imad Wasim is suffering from a side strain, which means he won't be able to play in our opening match," Babar revealed.

Despite the setback, the skipper was optimistic about Wasim's participation in the remaining matches of the mega cricket tournament.

"Although Imad won't play the first game, we hope that he will be available for the rest of the matches," he added.

Recently, Pakistan have been experimenting a lot in the batting order. Babar, Mohammad Rizwan and Saim Ayub have been shuffling in the opening slot for past few games. 

Moreover, a similar story can be seen in the middle-order. There isn’t any consistence from Pakistan. 

When asked about plans for the team combination specifically batting order, Babar ruled out a “fixed batting position” for the batter. 

He said that it would “vary depending on the situation and the strategy”.

"Unfortunately, Saim Ayub could not perform as was expected of him. He is a game-changer, but he could not get the opportunity he needed," he said. 

Unconditional faith 

Shadab Khan has been a talking point in the cricketing circle in Pakistan for past one year due to his form. The all-rounder has played a total of eight games where he managed to score only 93 at an average of 18.60, while with the ball he claimed only six wickets. 

Despite that, he has been a go to man for the Pakistan captain, who Babar believes “is the most reliable” player. 

“As a captain, I have trust in every player, with Shadab being the most reliable as he delivered under all sorts of conditions."

Discussing the upcoming match between Pakistan and the United States on June 6, the skipper expressed faith in his team's ability to excel. 

"The home conditions favour the US, but I believe in our team's ability to play good cricket," he affirmed.

Babar highlighted the importance of senior players taking responsibility and avoiding past mistakes, as the team gear up for the World Cup.

Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Usman Khan

Pakistan’s schedule of matches:

6 June – vs USA, Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium, Dallas

9 June – vs India, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York

11 June – vs Canada, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York

16 June – vs Ireland, Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida


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