| Hopes players will perform well against Sri Lanka; believes spinners will play key role but backs pacers too


LAHORE    -   Pakistan cricket team’s all-format captain Babar Azam has said that he is keen to gain top position in Test format as well.

While interacting with sports journalists during a press conference held here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Monday ahead of the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka, Babar Azam said: “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.”

The skipper said that Pakistan batsmen are in good form, and hopefully, they will put up their best in the Sri Lankan conditions. “If the team plays under the given plan, we are sure we will do well against a young Sri Lankan team. I know every team perform well at their home soil yet we will chalk out a plan to get 20 wickets. We will keep to our strengths and play according to our batting strength.”

Babar said that the team has prepared well against Sri Lanka, adding that he is optimistic about the team’s good show against Sri Lanka. “We are well aware of the Sri Lankan conditions, which are quite similar to Pakistan, so we have prepared well to play spin in Sri Lanka. Hopefully, all the players will play according to set plan and help the national side win the series.”

The captain believes that Pakistani fast bowlers will do well despite spin-friendly pitches in Sri Lanka. “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 is good enough to put pressure on the Lankan batters and pose a threat to them.”

Babar also showed his full faith in the spinners saying they will play a key role in the Sri Lankan conditions. “Yasir Shah has returned to our squad and his form is good. Left-arm spinners Nauman Ali and Mohammad Nawaz, who are the other two key options for us, will also dominate in Sri Lankan conditions that usually favour spinners and they will be crucial for us against Sri Lanka.”

About Shoaib Akhter’s visit of the camp in Rawalpindi, the captain said the former fast-bowling ace spoke to the fast bowlers and backed them up to become world-beaters. “Our fast bowlers got useful tips from Shoaib Bhai. Hopefully, his motivation and tips to our pacers will help them deliver against Sri Lanka at their own backyard.”

On the rain forecast during the upcoming series, Babar said: “Weather is not in our hand; what we can do is to make a good team combination and play according to the situation.” He, however, said that the final eleven will be picked according to the Sri Lanka conditions.

Babar-led Pakistan team is due to leave for Sri Lanka tomorrow (Wednesday) to play two Test matches. First, Pakistan will play a three-day warm-up match from July 11 to 13. They will play the first Test from July 16 to 20 at Galle while the second Test will be staged at Colombo from July 24 to 28.