Saturday, June 22, 2024

Babar previews T20 World Cup in 52nd edition of PCB Podcast

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Photo Credit: Pakistan Cricket Board

Pakistan captain Babar Azam is a special guest in the 52nd episode of the PCB Podcast, which was released today and is available here for viewing and free downloading for editorial purposes.

In a candid and ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024-focused conversation, Babar talks about:

  • Side’s excitement, preparations, atmosphere and confidence for the tournament
  • Performances in the past three T20 tournaments and learnings
  • Hurtful matches in the 2021 and 2022 T20 World Cups
  • Unknowns in the United States for the first round matches
  • 9 June Pakistan versus India match; Group 2 that may potentially include Pakistan, England, West Indies and South Africa (if all goes according to pre-event seeding)
  • Difference between a T20 World Cup and bilateral T20I series, and significance of consistency
  • Responsibilities of the captain and senior players in modern day cricket, and the importance of open and transparent communication
  • Desire to win an ICC trophy as a captain and presenting to Pakistan
  • Progression as a T20I batter; team’s ability to post big totals and chase targets
  • Pivotal role of Gary Kirsten as white-ball head coach

“I am happy and excited because when you go to play in a major event, you have different excitement. It’s the aim of any cricketer to play in a World Cup, so that kind of feeling is coming over me. The hope is always to lift the trophy, but for that to happen, we have to play top cricket against every side.

“Our performances in the last two ICC Men’s T20 World Cups have been good. Unfortunately, we could not finish on a high. We were also runners-up in the ACC T20 Asia Cup 2022. So, at the back of our minds, we are thinking about how we have played two finals and a semi-final and how we can overcome the mistakes that derailed our campaigns.

“Effort is in our hands, but results, we do not know. How we present ourselves on the ground, our body language and how we communicate with each other will matter. We must be positive, so results will come.”

“As a batter, I have achieved decently and, as a captain, I have won a few series. But lifting the ICC trophy is a different motivation. You go to a different level and get a lot of praise. So, the motivation, aspiration and dream remains to lift an ICC trophy and present it to Pakistan.

“Conditions in the USA may pose challenges as we are going there as a national side for the first time. We are in the process of collating various cricket and match-related information from players who have played there, which can help and assist us in our preparations.”

“An India-Pakistan match is always the most talked about; it is discussed too much wherever you go in the world. The players get different vibes and excitement. What will happen is that everyone supports their country, so the focus is on that match.

“The whole world is focused on the day when the India-Pakistan match is held. Naturally, there will be nerves, but we need to keep our focus, stick to the basics and play easy cricket. It is always a pressure game; the more you keep cool and calm, believe in your skills and hard work, then things get easier.

“I understand the responsibilities of a captain as there are additional expectations. You have players and the management, and you have to maintain communication with them. You have to control your emotions and back your players because you have to get the best performance out of them. You always have to support them and give them the confidence that they are the best and can do better.”

“I think the semi-final we lost against Australia (2021), we could have won that. In that match, fielding was the reason that made a different impact. If we had bowled two or three dot balls in the final stages, then the pressure would have got to them. But we lost as a team and not due to an individual.

“For me, in 2022, we could and should have won the India game, but they took it away.

“The most hurtful was the defeat against Zimbabwe. It hurts more because we had played good cricket against India and people were praising our performance and fightback.

“In the final, Shaheen’s injury was impactful because at that time, the pressure was on them (England). We were forced to give an over to a spinner and that made a difference.”

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