No fissure in the team, claims Babar after Imam’s cryptic tweet

KARACHI-Pakistan all-format captain Babar Azam has dispelled the impression of a rift between the players of the national team, saying, ‘The unity of the team is intact and there are no differences in the team at all.’ 
Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq posted a tweet on Sunday, believed to be an indirect way of venting out his anger for being benched in the fourth and fifth ODI of the recently concluded PAK vs NZ ODI series. “Life is an unexpected journey so never expect anything from anyone”. Be patient, Allah is watching,” he wrote. 
When Babar was asked about Imam’s cryptic tweet during the post-match press conference on Sunday, he replied he had not seen the tweet and would see it later. “No one gets angry in this team. The unity of our team is phenomenal and it will remain like this,” he added. “And when something like this happens we try to keep to ourselves because the trust level between us is quite good.” 
Commenting on Pakistan’s possible squad for the mega event, Babar said he and the management had 15 to 20 players in mind whose names would only be revealed before the World Cup. “Every match before the World Cup is important for us and we are trying to utilize it,” he said. 
Elaborating on the team’s performance in the recently concluded five-game ODI series against New Zealand, the Pakistan captain said, “There were many positives and we were able to check on our bench strength in the series. “We tried to clean sweep the Black Caps but the way we planned, we couldn’t finish it that way. “We planned to finish the series on a better note; however, early wickets led to our defeat in the fifth ODI,” he said. 
New Zealand opener Will Young heaped praises on hard-hitting Pakistan batter Iftikhar Ahmed for his courageous knocks against the Blackcaps during the recently concluded white-ball series between the two sides. Iftikhar smashed an unbeaten 94 from 72 balls to keep the opposition on their toes despite the top-order collapse. His heroic knock eventually went in vain as Pakistan were all-out for 252 while chasing 300. 
The grit shown by Iftikhar did not go unnoticed as the Kiwi player Young spoke highly of his knock, claiming he was distressed after dropping the former on 60. “He is an amazing player. I can recall a couple of knocks when he almost won the game singlehandedly” said Young in the post-match press conference. “I think the game is never over when Ifitkhar is at the crease. And when I dropped him on 60 at point, my heart was pumping.” 
Young, who starred with a brilliant 87-run knock, said he was happy with the team’s victory and the way he played in the final ODI. “We were able to take wickets today which we were not able to do in the previous game and managed to put pressure on the opposition,” he added. 
Commenting on the importance of the Pakistan tour before the World Cup – scheduled later this year in India – he said, “Playing in the subcontinent condition will help us a lot preparing for the mega event.” 
He also hailed the local crowd for their support and lauded Pakistan for its great hospitality. “They were obviously home fans but they were nice and friendly to us as well. And the way we were treated in hotel rooms at various hotels was outstanding,” he said. “Hospitality was great,” he remarked. 

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