‘We will not take England lightly,’ says Babar Azam ahead of T20 series


LONDON: Pakistan cricket team captain Babar Azam said they are positive about the series and will not take England lightly in the three-match T20 series starting at Old Trafford (Manchester) Friday.

In a media interaction through video link, Babar was optimistic on his team chances against England.

“Admitted that England will be fielding a totally new look team and even Jason Roy will not be there, yet we have to play very well to beat one of the top-ranked T20 teams. We never take the opposition lightly and that will be our strategy for the series against England during the series.”

Talking about the final XI for today’s match, Babar said it is difficult to decide between Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mohammad Rizwan and hinted that Pakistan could give a Twenty20 debut to teenage batsman Haider Ali.

“He is an exciting talent and has been doing well in practice,” he said, adding, “We will definitely want to give him a chance as and when it comes.”

For Babar, Friday’s match means a quick change in formats after his unbeaten fifty helped Pakistan to a draw in the third Test against England earlier this week, although the travelling side lost the series 1-0.

“It´s really difficult to come from red-ball to white-ball,” said Babar, one of the worlds leading batsmen.

“But T20 specific players have been practising so the aim is to win the series.

‘England must field first-choice team’

Eoin Morgan believes England must field their strongest Twenty20 side as often as possible if they are to triumph at next year’s T20 World Cup and replicate their 50-over global triumph.

The coronavirus pandemic has led England to name separate red-ball and white-ball squads this season, with the likes of all-format stars such as Test captain Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer missing from the Twenty20 series against Pakistan.

They will also be without another member of the side that won the 50-over World Cup last year, with opening batsman Jason Roy missing because of a side injury.

And Morgan, while encouraged by the chance to give the likes of batsmen Dawid Malan and Tom Banton a chance to stake a claim, he insists England must field their first-choice team as often as they can if they are to enjoy more success at a major world tournament.

“This is another opportunity for guys who would potentially sit outside that 15 to try and present their best case moving forward for winter tours and the World Cup next year,” white-ball captain Morgan told reporters on Thursday.

But he added: “One of the challenges between now and the World Cup is going to be getting our strongest team on the park as often as we can to define (their) roles.

“We will only know our strongest positions after we have guys achieving in those roles.

The Dublin-born batsman said he wanted to see the first-choice side in action as often as possible.

“I don’t think we can have a scenario where we can play the majority of our games with a half-strength team and then expect to go into a World Cup as contenders when guys don´t know their roles or haven´t been familiarised with them,” he said.