No one dares mess with Babar Azam batting position in team, says captain Shan
By News Desk
November 29, 2023 11:27 AM
Newly-appointed captain of Pakistan Test cricket team Shan Masood has declared that “no one dares mess” with the position of Babar Azam who will play at number 4 as usual, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Addressing a news conference at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Wednesday ahead of Pakistan’s tour to Australia starting next month, Shan Masood twisted no words in making it clear that former captain Babar Azam will bat at his normal position of number 4. “I myself will not open the innings, rather I will play at number three,” he added.
Revealing the team’s batting order strategy for the upcoming Australia Test series, Shan Masood emphasized the stability of the team, particularly highlighting the enduring partnership of Imamul Haq and Abdullah Shafique. “Our Test team has been a settled unit. The opening combination of Imamul Haq and Abdullah Shafique has been representing Pakistan for more than a year now. They have given a lot of performances. After the retirement of Azhar Ali, I have mostly played at number three spot in domestic and international cricket. This is the top three in our plans,” he added.
Masood outlined the batting sequence and assured that the team would be built around the exceptional talent of Babar Azam, who firmly holds the number four spot. Masood acknowledged Babar Azam as the team's premier batsman and stressed the importance of preserving his batting position. “Babar Azam is our best batsman. No one would disturb his batting position, which is number four spot. You make your team around the team’s best batsman,” he elaborated.
“I have had a very good relationship with Babar Azam. We played cricket for Islamabad and won matches for them, we understand each other very well.”
The Test captain also spoke highly of Saim Ayub, recognizing him as an exciting prospect with an aggressive approach in domestic cricket. “Saim Ayub is an exciting prospect and he has been rewarded for his attacking approach in domestic cricket. He will get a chance if needed,” he added.
Masood also addressed the questions of having two wicketkeepers in Mohammad Rizwan and Sarfaraz Ahmed where he stated that the latter is well-settled as he featured in the latest Test series. “Sarfaraz Ahmed did really well in the home Test series against New Zealand and he is our settled keeper. He also performed well in Sri Lanka and secured his spot in the team while Mohammad Rizwan was excellent in the Tests in Australia in 2019. Rizwan can play as a batter too and we will see what combination to go with in Australia.
“Sarfaraz and I have played cricket for the same club in Karachi. He is one of the most successful captains in Pakistan, and he changed the way we played Test cricket and its mindset. Sarfaraz, Babar and Rizwan are those we can take inspiration from and we can use their experience,” he added.
Masood then talked about how important Haris Rauf could’ve been in Australia where extra pace is always required while citing England’s Mark Wood’s example who is one of the fastest bowlers in the world. “We wished for Haris Rauf to be with us in Australia for the Test series, Mark Wood did well there and we needed extra pace which he possesses but since he is not available now, we cannot do much and have to move on,” he added.
In anticipation of varying conditions, Masood hinted at the possibility of adjusting the team composition, potentially opting for an additional batter at the expense of a spinner. “We will go there and assess the conditions and then decide our playing XI,” he said and added “We might encounter a situation where we might have to drop a spinner and play an extra batter, so Rizwan can come into the fore then,” he added.
Pakistan will play a three-match Test series in Australia including a match against Prime Minister XI and Shan Masood is confident that everyone in the team will give their best.
Squad for Australia Test Tour
Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi.