Exuding confidence, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam on Monday said the team’s players are driven by a strong “hunger” for success as they set their sights on clinching the coveted Asia Cup and ODI World Cup titles.
Fresh from its 4-1 home series win over New Zealand, Pakistan is currently in pursuit of the top spot in ODI rankings. It may very well dethrone Australia as the world’s No. 1 side with a 3-0 whitewash over Afghanistan in its Asia Cup build-up series beginning in Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
“Every player has a hunger to perform in this team. Every player wants to give match-winning performances,” Azam said in Hambantota on the eve of their three-match ODI series against Afghanistan.
The series will be a prelude to its Asia Cup campaign.
“Recently we have had different player of the match award winners, which is a good sign for any team. When you perform in big tournaments, it boosts your morale as a team and as individuals and this team has performed well in the recent past. Bowlers win you big tournaments and I have faith in them to win us big tournaments,” he said.
Pakistan may never have been defeated by Afghanistan in ODIs, but Azam acknowledged that the upcoming series could be challenging as its opponent would be coming from a 2-1 away victory in Bangladesh.
“We are focused in our preparations as we have big events in the Asia Cup and the World Cup coming up,” said Babar, under whose captaincy Pakistan has won 17 out of 26 ODIs.
“But, at the same time, we want to take one series at a time. It is always beneficial for a team to get such a series ahead of major events. That we are playing in Asian conditions will definitely provide us an edge and help us get in the rhythm. The Afghanistan team is on the rise and they have some good bowlers. The fans will get to see some exciting cricket.”
On current form, the Azam-led Pakistan is favourite to lift the Asia Cup and the cricket showpiece ODI World Cup, according to Zaka Ashraf, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s management committee.
“I have great hope that with your efforts and hard work, Pakistan will win the Asia Cup,” Ashraf told Azam and Co. after meeting them over lunch on the eve of the series at Hambantota.
“After securing victory, I am sure you will carry this momentum and confidence in the World Cup, bringing the trophy back home. This team under our great captain is performing really well. He has a talented team, and they are all performing in their respective roles. We have world-class batters and bowlers on the side. We have a good combination and I don’t find any reason why we should not win this trophy,” he said.
The series will conclude on August 26 before the team travels back to Pakistan to play the opening match of the Asia Cup against Nepal four days later.
Pakistan is looking to gain momentum from the series against Afghanistan, which lost to Sri Lanka at the same venue 1-2 in June.
Since the start of 2022, Pakistan has won 13 out of 17 matches and in May, it topped the ICC rankings for ODI sides for the first time in history.
- With their Olympic dreams shattered, Indian compound archers look to make peace with reality
- I-League players approached for match manipulation: AIFF
- Allyson Felix, Inbee Park among 32 athlete candidates at Paris Olympics in IOC membership vote
- Arthur Fils and Hamad Medjedovic maintain winning starts at Next Gen Finals
- British Gymnastics bans coaches from weighing young athletes