Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, who has been handed reins of the side in all formats, on Friday insisted that his team does not have any factions and he would like to emerge as an independent leader with support of senior players. The Pakistan squad, including 35 players and 15 officials, will leave for New Zealand on November 23.
The senior team will play three T20 Internationals and two Tests while the Pakistan A side will be play two four-day games and four or five T20 matches in New Zealand. Talking to the media in Lahore, Babar dismissed a query whether there was uneasiness among players over his captaincy credentials. "This is a young team and there is no disharmony or groupings in our dressing room. The team is one. Every player respects and backs the other player and takes pride in their performances. No leg pulling in our team," Babar said.
Babar also insisted that he felt no pressure with the added responsibility of being captain in all three formats besides being the top batsman in the side. "I have always played with pressure. When I came into Pakistan team early on there was pressure on me to perform. We have to face challenges every day. Now there is a new challenge and responsibility and I will try to use my experience from white ball cricket," he said.
"I take advice from seniors and have learnt a lot from Saifi (Sarfaraz) and even Azhar (Ali). Whatever I have learnt and what they taught me, I am trying to apply those things and if need arises I will talk to them but in the end I will take independent decisions according to my mindset," he said.
Babar said that added responsibility of captaincy in all three formats won't affect his batting. "I try to enjoy myself as a batsman and I enjoy challenging situations. I know the team relies on me and I enjoy playing under pressure, especially abroad."
"We are going to New Zealand after having played a lot of cricket and we are excited as a team because we know our worth. We know that we have always performed well against New Zealand be it in New Zealand or anywhere else."
He also said that if New Zealand had developed into a strong team and had some good individual players, the same was true about Pakistan. "My main aim is to back and support my players. Especially those who are not performing well because they need the backing most. As a captain you have to show confidence in your players and back them only then they develop the confidence to do well."
"I struggled early when I came into Test cricket but only started performing because of the confidence and backing I got from Mickey Arthur and Safi."
Babar, to a question, admitted the New Zealand tour will be a litmus test for him as batsman and captain. "What we are aiming to do is create a good combination of young and senior players and try to be more consistent. As a team we just have to give it our best shot. The results will not always be in your favour and not all the players can perform all the time."
He also said that no team cane be taken lightly and every series is a challenge for a captain.