Babar Azam is generally not known for his humour, at least in public space. But on Saturday, the Pakistan captain had the room in laughter with his dry wit.
When asked what is hot, the weather in Dubai or the India-Pakistan match, Azam replied matter-of-factly: “Nothing is hot.”
It was perhaps his attempt at taking the pressure off of the high-octane encounter that will play out at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. Here are the top Asian Bookmakers.
Nonetheless, Azam knows more than anybody what the stakes are of an India-Pakistan game. And he was on the right side of the result when the two sides had met, at this very venue, last time out.
And while most teams would take confidence from such a result, Azam kept it calm, a trait he is known for, and preferred to keep his feet on the ground.
🗣️ "We have a squad full of quality cricketers and match-winners"
🇵🇰 captain Babar Azam expresses confidence in his side ahead of India match.
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) August 27, 2022
“That match was in the past. This is a new game, with different conditions,” Azam said as Pakistan trained at the ICC Cricket Academy on Saturday.
“Sure, there is confidence that we beat them last time but it doesn’t mean we have to talk big and play it up. The most important thing is what we do on the ground,” he added.
Talking of calm, there has been a paradigm shift in this current team and set-up’s demeanour on and off the field.
The players easily chat with players from other teams, including India, making them one of the most lovable teams in world cricket.
“It is this culture in our Islam that things will be easy if we remain calm. We try our best to keep things simple and stay united as a team. We back each player. Also, have the belief that we can do it. And we always strive to play good cricket everyday, and if we do that the results will come. And this culture is because of each and every player in the team and not just one individual,” explained Azam.
Pakistan will be without their pace ace Shaheen Shah Afridi and while Azam said that his presence would have made a massive difference, especially against India, he added that the other bowlers could step up too.
“Injuries are part of the team. We have a good bench strength and we have a young battery of fast bowlers who have performed well and I have belief in them. He (Shaheen) is our best bowler and the way he bowls and helps the team, we will definitely miss him here. If Shaheen was available, it would have been a different game. But our other fast bowlers too are aggressive and have the pace and are young,” Azam said.
Shaheen was the deciding factor in Pakistan’s win over India at the T20 World Cup last year.
Azam tops the T20 and ODI rankings and is third in the Test rankings. And the 27-year-old said that it was all down to his mindset and belief and overcoming difficult situations.
“Nothing is easy and achieving things is difficult. It’s up to you, how you achieve things and overcome things. There are the best players in the world and to compete against them and to perform in tough conditions is all about mindset and belief. Ups and downs are part of cricket, but how you handle them is key,” he said.