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Monday, July 15, 2024  
08 Muharram 1446  

Babar rejects ‘defensive’ approach criticism

Hopes for comeback in series against New Zealand; says final eleven will be decided after discussion with selectors

Babar Azam, Pakistan’s skipper in all three formats of the game, has rejected criticism pertaining to his apparent defensive approach in playing cricket.

“When you lose things go against you. But, I apply my best plan, which I understand on the ground. I execute as per my plans,” he said while responding to a query during pre-Test series press conference at the National Bank Cricket Arena, Karachi on Sunday.

He was asked about the criticism levelled at him for taking a defensive approach against England, which became the first team to complete a whitewash in Pakistan by winning 3-0 in the Test series last week. “When I will attack and they will beat us you would ask why we were not defensive. These things continue. Sitting outside [the ground] you think that one should be defensive but I think the situation is different inside the ground because when I am out I think in the same way.

Until you are inside [the ground] you cannot feel this. I think those who are inside the field can better feel this and what should be done in this situation.“

Pakistan and New Zealand would play two Test and three one-day international matches in Karachi, starting from tomorrow (Monday).

When asked about the sudden change in the PCB management, the cricket team captain was composed. As a professional, players have to face such things, however, players’ job was to perform on the ground, he said.

“Because these things are out of the ground and our complete focus is inside the ground as to how we have to win the series and perform well in all three departments.” The second batter in the world of cricket admitted that the team lost the last home series due to “small mistakes”, however, he vowed to fill those gaps to play good cricket.

According to Babar, the pitch was very good and described it as similar to Australia. Still, it depended on the nature of cricket a team play, he added. The skipper was hopeful that the team would be able to make a comeback after losing the last three matches.

“The final eleven have not been decided yet. It will be decided after discussion with the chief selector.”

Shahid Afridi has succeeded Muhammad Wasim after the PCB Management Committee, under its new chief Najam Sethi, the new men’s national selection committee for the home series against New Zealand.

The interim committee added Mir Hamza, Sajid Khan and Shahnawaz Dahani to the Test squad just two days before the Test series. The decision was taken to strengthen the bowling department that lacks the vigour in the absence of injured Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf.

Afridi was confident the inclusion would give more options to Babar.

“Definitely, a discussion was held with me on this,” the captain said when asked if he was consulted by the interim committee on the new addition. “And we had a debate on how to carry it forward. We did the best we thought.”

He was of the view batting was the team’s strength and expressed hope that the bowling department would perform better.

When asked about the social media trend against teammates, he said that players back each other as a unit to support each other. He was of the view that such campaigns were an outcome of defeat in the last matches.

“Hopefully, we will make a comeback.”

 Pakistan Captain Babar Azam addresses a press conference at the National Bank Cricket Arena, Karachi on Sunday. Photo via Twitter/@TheRealPCB
Pakistan Captain Babar Azam addresses a press conference at the National Bank Cricket Arena, Karachi on Sunday. Photo via Twitter/@TheRealPCB

Babar said that he does not take the pressure of recent changes in the management as he has a firm belief in himself and his teammates. He further admitted that the team was not able to execute the plans, however, he went on to add that the team’s performance goes down under pressure.

He rejected any impression that there was any mistake in the selection of the team against England. “We played the best team as a captain and management we thought were suitable for the situation. And I will back it.”

The skipper said that he learned to keep the wickets at a time when the team was in the game and lose concentration. “We need to get more focused and more dedicated because one session can change the game in Test cricket.”

‘Excited to play in Pakistan after 2003’

New Zealand captain Tim Southee said that his side was excited to play in Pakistan as the touring side was playing here after 2003.

“Yes, we are excited to play here to come to a place where we have not played and we have not played here as a side since 2003. This is something the guys are looking forward to,” he said while addressing a press conference.

He added that the side has so far enjoyed their time here.

When asked about the difficult subcontinent conditions, he said the side would look for ways that would work for them and hopefully put up a performance that would benefit them.

He praised England for winning three Test matches here under coach Brendon McCullum and skipper Ben Stokes.

Southee was of the view that Pakistan would be looking to bounce back after losing the series against England.

“I am really honoured and looking forward to the challenge,” he said.

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