ISLAMABAD: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said on Tuesday his side was leaving for India tonight with “very high morale” ahead of the ODI World Cup that starts on Oct. 5.
The team heads to the 50-over tournament after a setback in the recently concluded Asia Cup, where they came fourth and their ICC ODI ranking fell to second place.
“We are leaving tonight for the World Cup and as a team our morale is very high, there is confidence,” Babar said at a pre-departure press conference. “We will try to play our best cricket.
“We could not deliver up to the mark [in Asia Cup], but we learned from it. We just don’t point out our errors, but we also talk about how to improve those sides.”
Pakistan have not played a one-day international in India in about a decade but have already beaten Afghanistan and New Zealand in the format this year.
Pakistan narrowly missed out on qualifying for the knockout rounds in the last 50-over World Cup in 2019 but the nation has a rich cricketing history in the format and in the sport, especially when they lifted the trophy in 1992, beating England in the final in Australia. It was a side that comprised some of the biggest names in cricket, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Babar Azam’s team will want to impress in a tournament that, unlike the T20 World Cup, only comes around every four to five years. But the side’s chances of success were dealt a serious blow during the Asia Cup when ace bowler Naseem Shah sustained a shoulder injury that was more serious than feared.
He has not been included in the World Cup squad.
Haris Rauf was also injured during the Asia Cup, but the Pakistan Cricket Board has since posted videos of the fast bowler training. He has been included in the final confirmed 15.
Only two players from Pakistan’s current squad have traveled to India before: Mohammad Nawaz, who was part of Pakistan’s 2016 T20 World Cup squad, and Agha Salman, who was in the Lahore Lions’ squad for the Champions League T20.
“I’m very excited to play in Ahmedabad. It is the biggest stadium in the world and will be jam-packed for the India-Pakistan clash,” Babar said about playing in India for the first time in his years-long career.
“I have spoken to former cricketers about the condition and they are not that different … I will try to perform to the best of my ability. I can’t exactly tell you how I will do since I’m not an astrologer.”
“I’m not worried about my performance. I always try to perform in a manner that suits the team.”
Pakistan squad for ICC World Cup 2023:
Babar Azam (c), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, M Wasim Jr., Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha.
Mohammad Haris, Abrar Ahmed, Zaman Khan