Pakistan skipper Babar Azam sent a strong message to his team as they begin a cycle of important games culminating in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
Pakistan take on Afghanistan in a three-match ODI series in Sri Lanka from 22 August with the Asia Cup following soon after. As the team fine-tunes their preparations ahead of the World Cup in India, Babar feels Pakistan has a strong momentum going their way after the Test series win in Sri Lanka.
“We enter this series with good momentum following our Test series win here and we are eager to build on it,” Babar told PCB Digital ahead of the Afghanistan series.
“We have a few new faces in the side and I wish them good luck for the challenges ahead. Most of the boys have been playing cricket in different leagues, but when you don the Pakistan star, it is a different feeling altogether.
Pakistan named a group of 18 players for the series against Afghanistan with the likes of Tayyab Tahir stepping in and Faheem Ashraf returning to the fold. Saud Shakeel gets a chance to build on his Test returns in the shorter format after being named in the squad for the three-match series.
Excited about the newbies in the squad, Babar said that it was great to have the whole unit together ahead of three big months of international action.
“Tayyab Tahir had a good [Emerging Teams] Asia Cup and he performed well here in Sri Lanka and everyone saw how Saud Shakeel played Tests here. I am especially impressed by how Saud has transformed into a modern-day batter in such a quick time.
“This is a great sign for Pakistan cricket that he groomed himself according to the demands of the team, and whenever anyone does that, I get very happy.”
While the Asia Cup and World Cup will be in focus, the Pakistan batter is only going to take it one series at a time and lauded Afghanistan’s rise as a cricketing nation.
“We are focused in our preparations as we have big events in the Asia Cup and the World Cup coming up,” said Babar. “The Afghanistan team is on the rise and they have some good bowlers.”
Babar also had a simple, yet powerful message for his team ahead of the busy season: “My message has always been to believe in yourself and make sure that you give your hundred percent in the field.”