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Babar eyes World Championship final

Abdul Mohi Shah
Thursday, Dec 01, 2022

RAWALPINDI: Amid fears of English cricketers’ newly contracted bug getting even worse, the possibility of making a few changes in the already finalised team for the opening Test of the series is on the cards. England camp is wary of the situation and has already floated a few suggestions on the delayed start of the series opener.

There were no such fears for Pakistan's captain Babar Azam who was beaming with confidence a day ahead of the start of the three-match series.

“We are all charged up for the series as we know well that a good performance during the home series would put them well on course to the final of the World Test Championship. We know well that three-match home Tests against England and two against New Zealand would be of utmost importance. A winning performance here could put us straight into the final of the World Championship. It is very important that we play our best cricket to win these series. We are ready for that as I have all the faith in my players. Some of them have been playing red-ball cricket at the Pakistan domestic circuit-thus are in good form with bat and ball. Others are coming out for a lengthy spell of international cricket. So, all and all we find ourselves at a starting point where confidence level is high going into the series,” Babar Azam said during his pre-Test media talk.

Around eight to nine English players are down with dehydration.

“Almost 14 touring squad members including eight players have contracted Diarrhea virus overnights. Though the English camp denies Covid-19 related virus, it is believed that it could be any virus ranging from normal diarrhea to even light flue related one.

“We are finger crossed at the moment knowing little as to what would be the situation early Thursday morning. We hope to get all players fit and ready by the start of the match. You cannot say anything final at this point of time,” Joe Root, who held a media talk in absence of captain Ben Stokes, who is also down with the virus, said.

When asked whether there were any chances of making any changes in the already announced line-up, Root said at this point of time he was not sure about that.

England team management has already announced handing Liam Livingston a Test debut.

“We have some of the leading performers for Test cricket. We know well that it is not easy to transform your game from one-day to Test matches so quickly. Luckily, we have the majority of cricketers who just pursue red-ball cricket. That makes things easier,” Root said.

Root was confident in his team’s chances going into the Test series with full strength.

“We have bright chances of surprising Pakistan at their home turf more because of the form of players and England team’s recent performance in all formats.”

The former England Test captain admitted that England will have to continue with their attacking cricket. “That has fetched us some exciting results in the recent past. Our effort would be to put Pakistan under pressure by playing an attacking game. Bowlers have the ability to make inroads into the Pakistan batting line-up by picking key wickets at crucial times,” Root said.

When England were here last time 17 years back Pakistan defeated the side 2-0 winning the last match with an innings margin.

“We want to repeat that feat by winning the series fair and square. We definitely would want to emulate that performance. Winning the series is of utmost importance for us as we are not only playing at home but are well on course to make it to the World Test Championship final.”

Pakistan, however, faces a tough proposition of making it to the final of the Test Championship as the team required at least four Test wins from the five they are to play at home against England and then against New Zealand in a month's time. Currently Pakistan are placed at No 5 on the table with 56 points. The top of the table Australia with 8& points looked well set to make it to the final.