Fakhar and I will open in Australia: Babar Azam
Pakistan's new T20I skipper Babar Azam has insisted that captaincy will not put him under any pressure and that he would like to emulate the likes of Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson in terms of balancing performance with leadership duties. Speaking ahead of Pakistan's tour of Australia, which includes three T20Is and two Tests, Azam said it would be challenging but insisted that Pakistan will play a positive brand of cricket regardless of the opposition.
"Every tour is tough and Australia is always a challenging place because of the extra bounce, but we will go for wins as we always do. I have toured Australia as skipper of Pakistan Under-19 (2012) and with the Pakistan team three years ago, so I have experience of those conditions."
Azam, who took over as the Pakistan captain for the shortest format after Sarfaraz Ahmed was removed from the T20I and Test roles - the Test captaincy being handed to Azhar Ali - said his low scores during the recent T20I series against Sri Lanka, when he was the vice-captain, should not be a criteria to judge him as a captain.
"People judged in three matches [against Sri Lanka] that my performance suffered because I was vice-captain. That's not how it works. In the game of cricket, you have ups and downs, and that was a poor series for us, no question. I give 120% for the team in every single match, and I don't see why there would be any added pressure on me just because I'm the captain. I'll continue to play as I always have, and I'm sure the performances will come," Azam said on Friday (October 25).
"Moreover, I'm not just thinking I'll be happy to play regardless of the results. I'm looking to get a performance out of my team, as well as my individual performances. I look at current captains like Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli, and how well they manage their own form along with bringing results to the team. I'll try to emulate them," he added.
Azam, who said he'll continue to open the batting in T20Is, also stressed on the importance of having patience and backing those players who are not in the best of forms. "There are players in our team who have continued to perform. I don't think they should be kicked out of the side just because they haven't been able to hit those heights for four or five games.
"We should back them. If you look at Fakhar Zaman's innings in the T20 Cup against my side [he scored an unbeaten 82 off 54 to help KP beat Central Punjab by 7 wickets], you can see he's beginning to return to form. You could see the improvement in Shabab's bowling, too.
"These guys know better than anyone they haven't been able to deliver at the level that's expected of them, but you can see they are returning to form. Fakhar and I will open, and Imam-ul-Haq will be the back-up opener, and I'm sure he'll be ready to take over when necessary," Azam said.
The T20I leg of Pakistan's tour of Australia begins on November 3 with the opening game at the SCG. The second match will be played in Canberra on November 3 while the final T20I will be held in Perth on November 8.