Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq feels Babar Azam will need all the help he can get as the top-order batsman gets ready for his maiden stint as captain of the country’s T20I outfit.
The 25-year-old batting prodigy is all set to lead Pakistan in the upcoming three-match T20I series in Australia after replacing Sarfraz Ahmed in the role, while Azhar Ali will take charge of the Test side.
Misbah, who had an illustrious Pakistan captaincy tenure previously, has vowed to pass on his wisdom to the two new skippers as they prepare for their debuts in the new roles Down Under.
“Sometimes it’s a challenge for the captains. Azhar has already captained in Australia. He’s a bit experienced, he knows, and he’s played a lot of Test cricket,” Misbah was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo after he addressed his first media press conference upon the team’s arrival in Austalia.
“Babar is new, and so it will be really important for me to pass on advice. The team also needs to support him and execute plans.
“Some of the bowlers who have experience can help him too. Imad Wasim is there, Wahab Riaz is there, Mohammad Irfan, they can really help him, setting the fields, having their bowling plans executed properly. Obviously it’s a new thing, new experience for him but I think all these challenges will help him get stronger and be bigger in stature.”
Having tasted a 0-3 whitewash on home soil against Sri Lanka in his first T20I series since taking charge, Misbah has rung in the changes for the Australian tour with plenty of new faces in both the red-ball and limited-overs outfits.
Among the fresh faces in Pakistan’s touring party are two teenaged pacers – Muhammad Musa Khan and Naseem Shah. 18-year-old Muhammad Musa has been named in both the Test and T20I outfits while 16-year-old Naseem has found a place in the Test squad.
Showering special praise on young Naseem, Misbah feels that the young fast bowler could end up being Pakistan’s surprise package on the tour.
“He’s bowling well. Especially in the four-day competition that’s going on, first-class (Quaid-e-Azam Trophy), he’s bowling well,” Misbah was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“The good thing about him is he’s bowling well in all spells. He’s now playing his fourth first class game of the back home, and in all spells he’s bowling quick. His control with the ball is also good. I’m looking forward to him bowling here in Australia where the conditions will also give him some assistance in getting pace and bounce. Everybody is excited to get him in the team.
“There is always the surprise that plays a part in selection but again you need to bowl well in Australian conditions. Only pace is not going to favour you. The good thing with him is he can bowl in good areas also. At Under-19 levels he bowled really well with the new ball and the old ball and he’s doing that in first-class cricket, too. Looking forward, if he can just put the ball in the right areas at that pace, it could be a surprise package.”
Naseem, on his own part, is undaunted by the challenge of making his Test debut in Australia of all places.
“I aim to make an impression with my speed and swing if given a chance in the Tests against Australia,” Naseem said.
“The conditions in Australia help fast bowlers. My aim is to make maximum use of the conditions and give a tough time to the home side.
“Playing on hard and bouncy pitches will be a great experience and a learning curve for me.”
Pakistan’s tour of Australia gets underway with a three-match T20I series beginning on November 3, before they take on the hosts in a two-Test series slated to start on November 21 at the Gabba in Brisbane.
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