Ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 semi-final clash against Australia, Pakistan captain Babar Azam agreed with Ravi Shastri's views of how it can be taxing to stay in the bio-secure bubble for long periods of time. Babar said that it can leave players 'disturbed and uncomfortable.'
Outgoing India head coach Shastri had said that being in a bubble for six months had left his players mentally and physically exhausted. "Look they are always ups and downs in professional cricket but yes players do get disturbed and uncomfortable by remaining constantly in a bio-secure bubble environment," Babar told a virtual press conference ahead of his team's semi-final clash against Australia on Thursday (November 11).
"We have tried to counter that by working as a group and trying to support each other in the Pakistan team," he said.
Babar further added it has not been easy for his players to stay in the bubble too. "As a player, you need to relax and be ready to absorb the pressure. But at times when things are not going well, you need space and you need to refresh, go out.
"If you can't get out of the bubble, negative thoughts do enter your mind and affect your performances," he explained.
Babar said Pakistan had tried to counter the situation by working as a group with senior players, even holding counselling sessions for players who were not feeling comfortable in the bubble. "We all try to talk to each other all the time in groups and help out each other by lifting each other and it allows us to relax and encourage as well," he added.
Babar also said he was relishing the chance to lead Pakistan in all three formats. "We have performed well so far in every match we want to carry the same momentum into the semi-finals. As a group we have done our best and everyone has given his best but every match is a new challenge and this is T20 cricket you have to remain sharp on the given day," he said.
Babar said that all the hard work and efforts the team put into winning its five Super-12 group stage matches would now be tested in the semi-final against Australia. The star batter said he was not averse to taking strong decisions to help the team succeed.
Babar put down Pakistan's success in the mega event down to the fact that the team had a core of 8-9 players who have been together for the last three-four years and knew each other very well. "Everyone takes responsibility, everyone's role is clear. In the semi-finals, we want to continue positively but it is all about how you perform on the day."
Speaking of the crucial match, Babar expects Hasan Ali and Fakhar Zaman, who have been off-colour to fire in the semi-final. "You want 11 players to perform? It doesn't work like that in cricket, three to four players perform in a match," said the skipper when asked about Fakhar's low returns in the competition.
"Two batters perform in a game. Every player can't perform in one match. The way Fakhar is playing, he has been given all the confidence. On his day he can change the game on his own and I have full confidence he will do it in the coming games."
Speaking of Hasan Ali, Babar said, "I can't think of leaving him out. He is my main bowler. He has won us matches, won us tournaments. Ups and downs are part of anyone's career and when you are a little down you must back your key player and the whole team is behind him.
"He is mentally very strong and I believe he is a big match player and will deliver in the semi-final," said Babar.
Pakistan, the only unbeaten team in the tournament, has played nothing like the unpredictable tag associated with them for years. They have played like a well-oiled machine, winning game after game. However, they have not got a lot of runs in the Powerplay and it is something they can improve against the Australians.
"We do plan to get 45-50 runs in the first six overs but sometimes we are not able to execute.
"It is important to not lose wickets initially and our middle order can take it up later. In these conditions, we want to get 45-50 runs in the powerplay," said Babar.
(With inputs from PTI)