Babar Azam sets sights on sustaining success in England series

Pakistan captain Babar Azam is setting his sights on carrying the team's momentum into the upcoming series against England after finishing the T20I series against Ireland on a winning note.  

Pakistan clinched the three-match series against Ireland 2-1, with significant contributions from Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, both of whom scored impressive half-centuries. Reflecting on the series, Babar praised the team’s overall improvement, especially in batting. "Our team rebounded strongly after the initial setback in the first match, particularly in the batting department," he said. 

The Pakistan skipper acknowledged standout performances from top-order batters Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman, and also noted promising efforts from Iftikhar Ahmed and Azam Khan in the lower order. "Rizwan and Fakhar were exceptional throughout the series. It’s encouraging to see Iftikhar Ahmed and Azam Khan stepping up when needed," he added. 

Babar didn't hold back on his commendation for the bowlers, especially lauding Imad Wasim's economical spells and the collective efforts of veteran Mohammad Amir and pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi. "Our bowling attack has responded well under pressure, with Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, and Shaheen Shah Afridi leading from the front," he added. 

Discussing the crucial third T20I against Ireland, the skipper credited the opposition for their strong start but highlighted his team's strategic execution. "Our bowlers, including Amir, Abbas, Shaheen, and Hassan Ali, really stepped up, taking crucial wickets and tightening our grip in the death overs," he said and added: "The energetic crowd also played a huge role in boosting our morale." 

With an eye towards the future, Babar expressed optimism about the upcoming four-match T20I series against England. "These matches are crucial preparations ahead of the big tournaments. Our goal is to maintain our form and positive approach as seen against Ireland when we face England," he asserted. 

The first T20I between Pakistan and England is scheduled for May 22 at Headingley, followed by the second match at Edgbaston on May 25. After this series, Pakistan will head to the United States of America (USA) to compete in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024. 

Meanwhile, sharing his thoughts on the recent T20I series against Pakistan, Ireland cricket team captain Lorcan Tucker said: "Leading the team was a brilliant experience and a great honor. Although we would have liked to kick off with a win, just being out there was invaluable. Our initial setup was strong, but regrettably, we couldn’t close out as we had hoped. 

“We took the opportunity to rotate our bowlers throughout the series, giving everyone a chance to show their skills. I am proud of how they performed under challenging conditions and they certainly deserve credit for their efforts. While the final results were somewhat disappointing, the series was not without its positives. Looking ahead, the specifics of our upcoming matches in New York remain uncertain, but we remain hopeful and positive about what lies ahead."

Azhar Khan is an accomplished senior sports journalist with extensive experience in the field. He can be reached at azharmasood786@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @azharmasood786

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