Babar Azam is the best batsman so his position won’t be confused, says Shan Masood
- Babar’s position should not be confused, says Masood.
- He says the inclusion of older captains in the team is positive.
- The new captain admits that the bowling unit has not settled well.
Pakistan Test captain Shan Masood on Wednesday assured that Babar Azam’s place in the playing XI will not be compromised and the team will be built around him.
Addressing a press conference before the team’s departure for Australia, Masood said the team for the Test tour of Australia was selected following a “due process” and his job was made easier as everyone was on the same page.
“Our Test team is settled and the World Test Championship has already started on that note,” said Shan. He hinted that the team would stick with the opening pair of Abdullah Shafique and Imam Ul Haq and bat at number 3.
“Babar Azam is the best batsman in the side and you build your team around your best batsman so that his position is not compromised. Similar to Saim, Khurram Shehzad and Mir Hamza have won awards for their domestic performances. As for Haris Rauf, you can ask for a player, but the discretion lies with the player and if he is not available, you have to settle with him,” Masood said.
The newly-appointed skipper said they “will not make many changes to the established squad” but the team will travel to Australia “with the intention of winning, so that will be reflected in how the team is playing”.
“When the team is settled, you only make changes if conditions or injuries require it. We might throw in a spinner to play an extra innings, but we have to bear in mind that you need five bowlers to take 20 wickets in a Test match, so our priority would be to field a team that can score runs and take 20 wickets in each game.
As a team, we will take responsibility for the result and try to learn from our mistakes every day while we are on tour,” said Masood.
“Having positive past captains on the team”
Asked about the presence of previous captains in the team, Masood said it was not new to him as he had been in such a situation in the past when he was leading a team.
“I see that as a positive, as they make your job easier, in my opinion. We don’t have just one leader in the team. Earlier, when I was the captain of Multan Sultans, I had players like Moeen Ali who had experience as a captain.”
“In terms of the current squad, players like Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Babar Azam all have leadership experience, which means there is a lot more knowledge on offer, especially on the field.”
“We can grow as a team only when we all play as leaders and contribute where we can best as per the requirements of the Pakistan team,” he said.
On his relationship with his predecessor Babar, Masood said he enjoys a “very good relationship” with him on and off the field.
On Sarfraz Ahmed’s presence in the team, he said his presence is “very important” as the wicketkeeper’s batting has changed “Pakistan’s batting style”.
“Whether it’s Sarfaraz, Rizwan or Babar, their expertise will help Pakistan in Australia, which is positive for us as we will need their experience on the challenging tour,” Shan said.
The bowling unit is not “well organized”, he admits
When asked about the bowling, the captain admitted that the attack was not as “well settled” as they would have liked in the absence of Naseem Shah.
“Our success in Sri Lanka was due to Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah bowling together as the two of them brought us wickets in the top and middle overs. Haris Rauf could have helped with his pace but he is not available either. Our fast bowling combination will become clear once we reach Australia,” Masood said.
Masood held the press conference at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium ahead of the team’s tour of Australia.
The Pakistan team is set to leave Lahore in the early hours of November 30 and play three Test matches in Australia, scheduled from December 14, 2023 to January 7, 2024.
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