Pakistan Captain Babar wants to win World Cup, not just a top-4 finish

LAHORE -Pakistan cricket team captain Babar Azam has emphasized that their objective is not merely to finish in the top four but to emerge as winners of World Cup 2023. 

Babar Azam said this during a pre-departure press conference held here at the PCB Headquar­ters on Tuesday. “The top four is a small goal for us. We want to come out as winners.” He ac­knowledged the lack of prepara­tion time due to continuous play but noted the importance of players returning refreshed and hungry for victory. 

Responding to queries about the team’s first-time experience touring India, the skipper said, “All of us are proud to travel for the World Cup. Although we haven’t played in India before, we are not taking too much pres­sure. We have done our research, and the conditions appear simi­lar to other Asian countries.” He expressed his hopes of returning with the coveted trophy, adding that leading the team in India was an honor. 

When questioned about Paki­stan’s disappointing perfor­mance in the Asia Cup, Babar attributed it to a learning experi­ence. “We have discussed all our mistakes as a team with the sup­port staff. Asia Cup was a differ­ent tournament while the World Cup is entirely different, so we will plan accordingly and try to produce better results during the mega cricketing event.” 

Addressing shortcomings in fielding and wicket-taking abili­ties, the captain highlighted the team’s commitment to improve­ment and support for struggling players. He emphasized the importance of backing players, who have consistently delivered for the team. “Whatever team you make, you should know what your core is. I know who my players are – the ones who would be willing to put up a fight – and I believe in them blindly.” 

Regarding Naseem Shah’s in­jury, Babar acknowledged the challenge of finding a suitable replacement but expressed con­fidence in Hasan Ali’s experi­ence, especially given his past World Cup participation. “We will miss Naseem Shah as his pair with Shaheen gave us a dif­ferent edge. It was not easy to pick his replacement, but we all sat together and got input from chief selector Inzamam ul Haq. We went with Hasan Ali be­cause of his experience as he has played the World Cup before.” 

When discussing the absence of Pakistani fans in India, the skipper expressed gratitude for their support on social media and anticipated playing in front of packed stadiums in India. “I have heard that the fans in India also show their love, although I have not experienced that as of yet but I am excited to play in India as well.” He also addressed criticisms of the team’s spinners, asserting his faith in their abili­ties and emphasizing the team’s unity and camaraderie. 

Reflecting on his personal goals for the World Cup, the captain said, “I am excited to play in Ahmedabad as it will be jam-packed. I will try my best to perform up to my potential. I am not worried about my individual accolades; I want to make sure whatever I do helps the result for the team.” Babar concluded by highlighting the importance of preparation, setting targets, and performing without pressure during a big tournament like the World Cup, asserting that these factors are pivotal to their quest for becoming world champions.

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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