DUBAI: Pakistan have never lacked talent and Babar Azam’s team will be highly motivated too when they launch their bid for a second Twenty20 World Cup title in the familiar surroundings of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday.
A strong sense of being wronged prevails in the squad and the players are seething after New Zealand abruptly cut short their Pakistan tour last month citing security apprehensions and England followed suit.
The double whammy was a massive setback to Pakistan’s hopes of hosting top teams.
Cricket chief Ramiz Raja has said they were “used and binned” by the “Western bloc” and has asked the players to channel their anger to improve their performance in the tournament.
The 2009 champions will begin their Super 12 stage campaign in Sunday’s blockbuster against arch-rivals India. They will also be highly charged up to face New Zealand in Group 2, which also includes Afghanistan.
As the team’s batting mainstay, the onus would be on Babar to shoulder the scoring responsibility at the top of the order, along with wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan. The duo are among the top seven ranked batsmen in this format and Babar said they had struck a good rapport batting together.
“Rizwan has been amazing and playing well for the last two years,” Babar said on Saturday.
“I enjoy batting with him at the top of the order and I hope we can bat for long periods of time together in the T20 World Cup as well,” Babar said.
Having often been forced to play their ‘home’ matches, as well as the Pakistan Super League competition, in the UAE, the players have a fair idea of how the pitches might behave.
“We’ve been playing cricket in UAE for the past three-four years and we know the conditions really well,” Babar had said in his pre-departure press conference.
“We know how the wicket will behave and the adjustments batters will have to make.”
Babar has a perfect 11-0 win-loss record in the UAE in this format but there is another piece of team statistics which is less flattering.
Pakistan are yet to beat India in any World Cup but the 27-year-old is optimistic they can break the jinx in UAE.
“We are not thinking of the past but the future. We are preparing for that. I am fully confident that we are well prepared and will play good cricket on the day.”