T20 World Cup: Ahead of Pak-India clash, Babar stresses sticking to basics and playing ‘easy cricket’ – Sport

Pakistan captain Babar Azam has stressed the need for his side to “stick to the basics and play easy cricket” as they prepare for the highly anticipated clash against India during the ongoing T20 World Cup.

Pakistan’s first match will be on June 6 against the United States, who beat Canada by seven wickets in the opening game of the tournament, which is being co-hosted by the US and West Indies.

The clash between Pakistan and India will be held on June 9 at the Eisenhower Park stadium in Nassau County, New York, where security will be boosted after reports of threats especially related to the match.

In a podcast released on Sunday by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Babar spoke about the match with India. “The whole world is focused on the day when the India-Pakistan match is held,” he said.

“Naturally, there will be nerves, but we need to keep our focus, stick to the basics and play easy cricket. It is always a pressure game; the more you keep cool and calm, believe in your skills and hard work, then things get easier,” he added.

Babar, who returned to the team’s captaincy in two formats in March, noted that an India-Pakistan match was “always the most talked about; it is discussed too much wherever you go in the world.”

“The players get different vibes and excitement. What will happen is that everyone supports their country, so the focus is on that match,” he said.

The skipper also expressed concerns about possible challenges the ground conditions in the US may pose as the team would be playing there “as a national side for the first time”.

To prepare well for the tournament, Babar highlighted the team was in the “process of collating various cricket and match-related information from players who have played there”.

Regarding his role, he said he understood the “responsibilities of a captain as there are additional expectations”.

“You have players and the management, and you have to maintain communication with them. You have to control your emotions and back your players because you have to get the best performance out of them. You always have to support them and give them the confidence that they are the best and can do better,” he added.

runners-up in the Asia Cup 2022.

Babar said the semi-final against Australia in 2021 could have been won if two or three dot balls were bowled in the final stages. “We lost as a team and not due to an individual,” he emphasised.

“For me, in 2022, we could and should have won the India game, but they took it away,” the men’s captain said about the match where the neighbours managed to beat Pakistan by four wickets.

However, Babar noted that it was the loss against Zimbabwe in that tournament — where the latter beat Pakistan by a single run — that was the “most hurtful”. “It hurts more because we had played good cricket against India and people were praising our performance and fightback.”

About the final with England, he highlighted Shaheen Afridi’s injury, which “forced [them] to give an over to a spinner” as being a major reason in their defeat.

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