Babar optimistic about team’s good show against Sri Lanka

LAHORE: Pakistan all-format cricket teams captain Babar Azam has said that the national team has prepared hard and he is optimistic about the team’s good show against Sri Lanka.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka, the skipper said here on Monday , “We are well aware of the Sri Lankan conditions that’s why we have prepared hard and trained very well for the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka. Hopefully, all the boys will play with great responsibility and help their side win the series.”

He said that the national team has practised at special pitches for the spin challenge. “Spin pitches were specially prepared at the National High-Performance Center (NHPC) while practice matches were also played on similar kinds of tracks in Rawalpindi. Conditions in Sri Lanka are quite similar to Pakistan, so we have prepared well to play spin in Sri Lanka.”

When asked whether Pakistani pacers would also deliver against Sri Lanka at their home soil, Babar replied: “If the pacers get less wickets in the match between Australia and Sri Lanka, it does not mean that our pacers cannot succeed either. Our pace battery has enough capacity to put pressure on the Lankan batters and hopefully, they will pose a threat to Sri Lankan batters.”

But the captain believes that spinners will play a key role in Sri Lankan conditions, saying leg-spinner Yasir Shah and left-arm spinners Nauman Ali and Mohammad Nawaz will be crucial for them in Tests against Sri Lanka. “Yasir has returned to our squad and his form is good. Nauman and Nawaz are the other two key options for us to dominate in Sri Lankan conditions that usually favour spinners.”

Babar said he is eager to gain a top position in Test format as well. “I am working really hard to make my performance equal to white-ball format. Gaining top position and making Pakistan proud is such a great feeling. I will try my best to continue performing for my country.”

Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar attended the national team’s training camp and met fast bowlers. Babar said Shoaib Akhtar’s meeting with pacers helped them learn a lot. “Our fast bowlers got useful tips from Shoaib Bhai. Hopefully, his motivation and tips to our pacers will help them deliver against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.”

Babar Azam’s side converged in Islamabad on June 25 to finalise their preparations for the Test series at the Pindi Cricket Stadium with a seven-day camp that ended on July 2. The national cricket team will be departing for Sri Lanka on July 6. While Pakistan will play a three-day warm-up match between July 11-13. The first Test will be played at Galle from July 16, while the second Test will be staged at Colombo from July 24.

Spin specialist Yasir Shah has made a comeback in the team as he was instrumental in Pakistan’s 2-1 victory over Sri Lanka on their last tour of the island in 2015, snaring 24 wickets at 19.33. He comes back into the side after regaining full fitness.

 

PAKISTAN TEST SQUAD FOR SRI LANKA: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain, wicketkeeper), Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood and Yasir Shah.

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