Our fast-bowling bench strength is excellent: Babar Azam

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safarisafari
12 Aug 2022 | 03:32 AM
authorcricket.com staff

Our fast-bowling bench strength is excellent: Babar Azam

The Pakistan captain also said that the team will manage the workload of their Shaheen Shah Afridi during the tour of the Netherlands

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said the team will manage the workload of their ace paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi during the tour of the Netherlands, starting August 16. The left-arm fast bowler is recovering from a knee injury and Babar wants him to be “fit and ready” for the Asia Cup, which will start later this month.

"We're taking a couple of doctors on the way to take care of Shaheen. We're looking long term at his fitness and health. We want him to play a game against the Netherlands if he's fit and be ready for the Asia Cup. Our combination is quite good. In T20s the middle order responded well to challenges,” said Babar. 

The three ODIs will be played in Rotterdam on August 16, 18 and 21. Out-of-form pacer Hasan Ali has been left out of Pakistan's 16-member squad for the Netherlands tour as well as the 15-man T20I squad for the upcoming Asia Cup. The likes of Haris Rauf, Shahnawaz Dahani, Naseem Shah and Mohammad Wasim are all travelling to the Netherlands and this series will give them a good platform to make an impression, especially with the new ball.

"Our fast-bowling bench strength is excellent. They've now got an opportunity to showcase their skills. This is how you expand your pool. I support Hasan Ali because he's a team man. Yes, he's not in form, but it's not like he has to prove anything. Domestic cricket is coming up. He'll play that and make a strong comeback hopefully.

"We have 11 trump cards. Each of them can be match-winners on their day. I have faith in every one of them, whether batters or bowlers. I think the conditions will be similar to England. The weather will be cooler. We practiced with the air conditioning on indoors, perhaps that helps simulate the conditions! We couldn't practice much because of the rains, but we got a practice match in, which gives you a good sense of conditions."

There were some talks about bringing back veteran Shoaib Malik for the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup but Babar wants to give as many opportunities as possible to the young players. "The team has been announced after discussions with everyone. We met with the coach and chief selector and did what was best for Pakistan. There are matches immediately after the Netherlands, so it's unlikely there will be time for changes.

"When senior players leave the side, those replacing them need focus. Hafeez and Malik were huge players and we'll miss them a lot, and players like Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah and Iftikhar need to fill their boots. We want to give them plenty of matches and confidence, and these players have performed. We're also looking to utilise Shadab Khan's batting, because batting depth is very useful in T20 cricket now.

"We're not going to just rest our senior players, we'll play with a combination of senior and junior players. There are important Super League points at stake which we can't lose. I'm going to the Netherlands for the first time, too. If things go badly after we field young players, we'll cop criticism then, too. Everyone won't be happy with our decisions, but we have to do what's best for Pakistan cricket."

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