LAHORE           -          Pakistan Twenty20 International team captain Babar Azam has said that he has a balanced side and he is optimistic about winning the series. 

“I have previously said that it is about winning matches and series. We have a balanced side. There is Shoaib, there is Hafeez. And then if you look at the bowling, there is Shaheen Shah and Wahab Riaz. There is Mohammad Amir and Haris Rauf. We have good mix of seniors and juniors, so I am optimistic about winning the series,” said Babar during a virtual media talk here on Thursday ahead of the first T20I against England, commencing at Old Trafford, Manchester today (Friday). 

The T20I skipper said: “It is true that I couldn’t deliver against England in the Test series, but I am committed to score a century in T20Is against the hosts. I am keen to learn from my mistakes and I will try to give my best in the T20I series.” 

He said that the boys have spent enough time in England already and all they would need is a change in ‘mindset’. “It’s really difficult to come from red-ball to white-ball. We only got one day for practice, yesterday we had a little bit with the white ball. It’s all in the mindset, we hope that we will come up with a good performance. The T20 specific players have been practising with white-ball specialists, so the aim is to win the series. We will not take England lightly as they have good white-ball players,” he added 

Babr, who is currently the best ranked batsman in T20, seemed optimistic about the upcoming matches due to the Pakistan’s form in T20 and the introduction of new talents found in the Pakistan Super League. “Haider Ali is a great talent and an outstanding player. We have tried to involve him in this group. He is playing well in nets and also in the practice matches. Shadab Khan is a good performer and we can utilise him as much as we can.” 

Asked if a 10-12 team global tournament can be hosted inside a bio-bubble, Pakistan T20I skipper replied: “Yes, it is possible because we have been in the bubble for about two months. They have given us hotels that are attached to the ground and there has been no real problem. Not any complaints from any of the boys. We have got a lot of time to think about cricket, sit with each other and talk. There’s not much to do except play cricket, and that’s a good thing.” 

Meanwhile, England captain Eoin Morgan has urged his players to seize their chance against ‘dangerous’ Pakistan in the three-match Vitality T20 series ahead of next year’s World Cup. Batsmen Tom Banton and Dawid Malan are among those looking to stake a claim for a long-term run in the side given the absence of the likes of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, as well as bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, following the Test series win over the tourists.

Speaking ahead of the first T20, Morgan said: “It gives guys the chance to stake their claim to be in that final 15-man squad for the World Cup next year. Given the circumstances surrounding COVID and the restrictions we have selection-wise, this is an opportunity for guys who would potentially sit outside that 15 to try and present their best case for the upcoming winter tours and the World Cup. Opportunities like this don’t come around all that often when we have our squad at full strength.” 

Rain is expected through much of the day, but should clear in good time for the game to get underway at 6pm. Persistent rain over the week will mean conditions are damp, which could result in a slow outfield. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see Pakistan open with a spinner, as they did to great success while on that jolly T20 streak. 

SQUADS (LIKELY)

PAKISTAN: Babar Azam (capt), Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, Haider Ali, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan/Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi. 

ENGLAND: Tom Banton, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan (capt), Sam Billings, Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Dawid Willey, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Saqib Mahmood.

Pakistan T20I skipper Babar Azam eager to score a century against England

Eoin Morgan has urged his players to seize their chance against ‘dangerous’ Pakistan