Babar Azam plays a shot during a match. File
World number one Twenty20 batsman Babar Azam said on Monday he was praying the coronavirus pandemic would not scupper his first T20 World Cup as Pakistan skipper.
Australia are due to host the seventh Twenty20 World Cup in October and November but organisers face challenges of providing appropriate bio-security and quarantine measures for 15 international teams.
Lingering travel restrictions could also hit the event, where forty-five matches are scheduled to be played in seven cities.
“It will be my first World Cup as skipper so I am praying for it and keeping fingers crossed,” Azam said in a virtual press conference.
The International Cricket Council will discuss the event at its board meeting in Dubai next week.
Azam said he would not mind if cricket was played in closed stadiums, without fans.
“It would be tough to play without fans because they cheer along and back you up, but who knows better than Pakistan how to play without crowds,” said Azam.
Pakistan were forced to play before sparse or no crowds in the UAE, their neutral ground, in the aftermath of the 2009 terrorist attack against a visiting Sri Lanka team in Lahore.
International cricket returned gradually to Pakistan from 2015 but it was only last year that the side managed to stage a Test at home after a gap of ten years.
The one-day international captain also vowed to improve Pakistan’s rankings.
“We are now fourth in Twenty20, sixth in ODIs and seventh in Tests which is not acceptable and I want to see improvements in that,” Azam said.
Pakistan topped the Twenty20 rankings from January 2018 to until last week.
Pakistan T20 captain Babar Azam said he was keeping his ‘fingers crossed’ that this year’s Twenty20 World Cup would go ahead in Australia
Meanwhile, Azam on Monday said he should not be compared with India skipper Virat Kohli as they are both different type of batsmen.
Azam, who was recently appointed Pakistan ODI captain, is ranked third in 50-over cricket whereas Kohli is number one. In T20Is, Azam is ranked number one followed by India’s KL Rahul. Kohli finds himself in 10th position as per latest ICC rankings. In Tests, Azam is ranked fifth with Kohli placed second below Australia’s Steve Smith.
There have been a lot of comparisons between Azam and Kohli, but the 25-year old on Monday said it is not right to compare the two.
“I think there should not be any comparison. He is a different type of player and I play differently. My job is to win games for my team and I will focus on that, not comparisons,” Azam told local media via video conferencing which was shared by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Asked about his way of captaincy, the soft-spoken Azam said he would like to have control of his emotions on the field while leading the side and try to get the best out of his teammates.
“You need to be cool as captain. You will get angry but you need to control your emotions. On the ground, you need to control your aggression. I will look to back players and infuse confidence in them,” said the dashing right-hander, rated as one of the best batters in the game at the moment.
Azam refused to comment on Shahid Afridi’s remarks on Kashmir.
Pakistan are pinning their hopes for World Cup glory on a crop of youngsters who have the talent to beat anybody but could also pay for their lack of experience. The side have only won the showpiece 50-over tournament once -- under the captaincy of current Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in 1992.
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