Pakistan captain Babar Azam commented on the Pakistan-India clash and asserted that his team’s focus in the World Cup will not remain on a single team.
Pakistan’s Test squad is currently engaged in the pre-series training camp at the Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre in Karachi from 4-7 July. Following the conclusion of the camp, the team will depart for Sri Lanka on 8 July.
The two-match Test series in Sri Lanka marks Pakistan’s first assignment in the third cycle of the ICC World Test Championship. The first match is scheduled to take place on 16 July at Galle International Cricket Stadium while the second Test will be held at Singhalese Sports Club in Colombo from 24 to 28 July.
Pakistan, ranked sixth in the ICC Men’s Test Team Rankings, previously toured Sri Lanka in July 2022 with the two-Test series drawn 1-1. They played their last Test series against New Zealand at home from 26 December 2022 to 6 January 2023 with both matches drawn.
Meanwhile, Babar Azam in the pre-departure press conference, played down the hype of the Pakistan-India World Cup clash, stating that his team’s focus in the mega event was not glued to a single team.
“Our focus in the World Cup later this year is not just team India but all of the sides participating in the tournament. We will be able to reach the finals only if we defeat the other teams. Our plan is to be equally competitive with every opponent,” said Babar.
“As a professional, our stance is to play cricket regardless of the venues and be ready to overcome all the challenges that come with different conditions. The goal is to represent Pakistan and help the team succeed by adapting to the different environments.
“Pakistan’s batters have dominated spin bowlers in the past so it will not be correct to suggest that our players fear playing against spin in conducive conditions. A batter is expected to do something different whenever he faces tough time against a bowler.
“Pakistan team will benefit from the input of Mickey Arthur [Director – Pakistan Men’s Cricket Team] as he was Sri Lanka’s head coach for a couple of years. He will have knowledge of the conditions in Sri Lanka and his experience with the side will further help us prepare for the upcoming series.”
Speaking on the likely lineup for the Test series against Sri Lanka, Babar Azam revealed that he will be preferring Sarfaraz Ahmed as his first-choice wicketkeeper batter before asserting that it is not necessary for the vice-captain to feature in the Playing XI, while referring to Mohammad Rizwan.
“It’s too early to say but I’ll try to prefer to have Sarfraz as my first choice. It’s not necessary for the vice-captain to play, it doesn’t affect anything. We will go with the best XI according to the conditions at play,” Babar Azam concluded.