Babar Azam makes emotional plea to fans ahead of 1st ODI against Sri Lanka in Karachi
A new chapter begins in Pakistan cricket as the Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side takes on Sri Lanka under the guidance of newly-appointed head coach Misbah-ul-Haq. Plenty has changed in Pakistan cricket since they were eliminated from the league stage in the ICC World Cup 2019. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) didn't just overhaul the entire coaching staff but also decided to shorten the list of players in the central contract, with two senior players in Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez being left out.
Although Sarfaraz managed to hold on to his spot as captain, he might not be at the helm for long considering Babar Azam has officially been named the vice-captain. There's no doubting that Azam remains one of the most talented batsmen in world cricket and as Sarfaraz's deputy, he's set to begin a new phase in his career where he will learn some valuable lessons of leadership.
As Babar will step on the field against Sri Lanka in the first ODI at the National Stadium, he will have additional responsibilities on his shoulders. The 24-year-old took to Twitter to express how honoured he is to have been named Pakistan's vice-captain, calling the first match on Friday as one of the biggest days of his career.
“Friday will be one of my biggest days when I will take the field as Pakistan vice-captain. I will want the entire country as well as the National Stadium crowd to make this a day to remember for me,” he tweeted ahead of the start of the series opener in Karachi.
Friday will be one of my biggest days when I will take the field as Pakistan vice-captain. I will want the entire country as well as the National Stadium crowd to make this a day to remember for me. #PAKvSLpic.twitter.com/YbhfvHIIga— Babar Azam (@babarazam258) September 25, 2019
Babar also remembered how he used to watch Pakistan play cricket at the venue during his childhood. It would, hence, be a proud moment for him to come out as the vice-captain of the side as international cricket resumes after a long time.
"As a youngster, I have seen on television packed-to-capacity National Stadium for ODIs and the two matches that immediately come to my mind are the 2004 and 2008 ODIs against India. In 2004, Pakistan lost by five runs despite Inzamam-ul-Haq's brilliant century but four years later, Younis Khan's belligerent 123 not out steered us to eight wickets victory. I am hoping there will be a similar crowd number when we will play Sri Lanka," Babar noted.
It would also be the first instance for the Pakstan team where they will host a 50-over bilateral series in their own country since the Zimbabwe visit in May 2015. Karachi, where all the three ODIs are scheduled to take place, will also be hosting matches in the 50-over format for the first time since 2009.