Babar Azam | has experienced a lot in what is still a budding career, but there is a much-awaited milestone when Zimbabwe visits Pakistan later this month for a limited tour. Despite being appointed national team captain in all three formats over a year ago, Azam has yet to lead his team in ODI cricket.
A lot has changed since Sarfaraz Ahmed became captain of Pakistan ODI Series 2-0 win over Sri Lanka in Karachi in October last year. Ahmed himself is no longer the captain of Pakistan and no longer a first choice member of playing XI in any format. Pakistan has posted home test wins against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, losing the No. 1st in the T20I rankings and completed three Tests and three T20I tours in the UK. A pandemic means all international plans have fallen apart, and the ICC World Cricket Super League has kicked off, with Pakistan’s draw against Zimbabwe being the home side’s first involvement in a qualifying league for the next ODI World Cup.
So far, however, Pakistan has not played a single ODI match, Azam’s first leadership series in Zimbabwe in a 50-over format.
“It is a great honor for me to be able to captain Pakistan in ODI cricket,” Azam told the PCB internal media channel. “There has been no cricket in Pakistan for a decade, and our players are forced to play abroad. So I consider myself very lucky.
“The ICC League gives context to each series, with seven qualifying spots up for grabs. So we want to put as many points as possible so that when we reach the World Cup, people talk about us seriously. In 2011, we qualified for the semifinals and in 2019, we couldn’t qualify. I don’t think ranking is important, but I want us to start well and I fully believe my team did well and qualified. “
ODI will be played at the Rawalpindi Stadium, the first time limited-overs cricket will take place outside PCB, Lahore and Karachi established centers since before the Sri Lanka team’s terror attacks in 2009. The main attraction behind the idea of playing limited-overs cricket is on-site – Smaller places across Pakistan will be packed in fully supported homes, meaning home support will be felt in the center. ODI may have returned to the Pindi Stadium, but instead of the crowds, there will be an empty stadium as a precaution against the Covid-19 pandemic. Azam admitted this would not be ideal and that his party would lose audience support.
“The crowd has always supported us, and we got a lot of love from them when cricket recently started returning to Pakistan. Unfortunately, Covid-19 means crowds are not allowed. We will definitely miss them because you always get encouragement from the audience. We had a lot of support during the National T20 Cup, and we hope to do the same during the Zimbabwe series. “