Babar Azam opens up on ‘pressure game’ as Pak vs Ind T20 World Cup clash on June 9

Pakistan’s skipper Babar Azam speaks during a podcast reviewing T20 World Cup 2024. — Screengrab via YouTube/@pakistancricket
  • Babar underscores need to play top cricket against each side.
  • Skipper says players need to keep calm, believe in their skills.
  • Acknowledges unfamiliar US conditions might pose challenge.

As Pakistan gears up to kick off its journey in the T20 World Cup 2024, skipper Babar Azam has acknowledged that there will be some nerves in the match against arch-rivals India in the tournament.

“The whole world is focused on the day when the Pakistan-India match is held. Naturally, there will be nerves,” Babar said while speaking on a Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) podcast.

Noting that the rivalry between the two countries is always the most talked about, Babar said that the team was focused on the June 9 match as the players too get a different vibe and excitement since the clash is always the most talked about and is discussed globally.

Stressing the need to focus and stick to the basics, the skipper said things will get easier if the players are able to keep themselves calm and maintain belief in their own skills and hard work.

“It is always a pressure game,” he added.

Hopeful to lift trophy

Furthermore, despite coming off from a 2-0 defeat in the recently concluded series against England, Babar said that he hopes to lift the trophy and that they have to give their best in each match to materialise this goal.

“I am happy and excited because when you go to play in a major event […] the hope is always to lift the trophy, but for that to happen, we have to play top cricket against every side,” he noted.

On the conditions that the Men in Green might face in the United States, Babar acknowledged that they can in fact pose a challenge as it will be the side’s first instance playing in the US.

“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,” he said.

Stressing that the team can only control their own efforts on the pitch and not the results, the right-handed batter underscored the significance of how the players present themselves in the ground, their body language and communication.

Reflecting on his own accomplishments as a captain, Babar said that although he has performed “decent” by winning a few series, he acknowledges that winning an International Cricket Council (ICC) tournament is a different thing altogether.

“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 remain to lift an ICC trophy and present it to Pakistan,” he noted.

Hurtful past

Recalling the Green Shirts performances in previous editions of the World Cup, Babar lamented that despite the team’s good performances they were unable to see those tournaments to the end to lift the trophy.

“Unfortunately, we could not finish on a high. We were also runners-up in the 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,” he said.

He further remarked that the team could’ve won the T20 World Cup 2021 semi-final against Australia.

“I think the semi-final we lost against Australia, 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,” the skipper noted.

He further added: “For me, in 2022 [World Cup], we could and should have won the India game, but they took it away.”

“Shaheen’s [Afridi] 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,” he said while recalling the T20 World Cup 2022 loss against England in the final.

However, Babar termed the loss against Zimbabwe as the most hurtful one and said: “It hurts more because we had played good cricket against India and people were praising our performance and fightback.”

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