Pakistan’s Babar Azam, who will be looking the close the gap on No. ranked ODI player Virat Kohli with good showing in the 2018 Asia Cup, said that the regular Indian skipper’s absence in the tournament will be beneficial for Pakistan
Pakistan’s Babar Azam, who will be looking the close the gap on No. ranked ODI player Virat Kohli with good showing in the 2018 Asia Cup, said that the regular Indian skipper’s absence in the tournament will be beneficial for Pakistan

Pakistan’s Babar Azam, who will be looking the close the gap on No. 1 ranked ODI player Virat Kohli with good showing in the 2018 Asia Cup, said that the regular Indian skipper’s absence in the tournament will be beneficial for Pakistan, but he did make it clear that there is no reason to take India lightly, or even Hong Kong, the team in their group, for that matter.

“There are no easy games in the Asia Cup and we cannot take the Hong Kong game lightly. “The match against India will be an interesting one,” Azam, who is ranked number two in the ICC ODI rankings with 825 points told PakPassion.

The 23-year-old went on to add that despite Kohli’s not playing in the tournament, India are a good side with the likes of stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma and former captain MS Dhoni in the side.

“Virat Kohli is a match-winner and in good form so his absence will be very beneficial for us and we will make use of that. India have a good side with Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni, who are very experienced players. We are not worried about any threat from an Indian player but are focused on the first match against Hong Kong,” he said.

Pakistan open their campaign against Hong Kong on 16 September before taking on arch-rivals India two days later on 19 September.  There is also the possibility of the mouth-watering clash happening three times if both India and Pakistan make it to the final and Azam is excited with the prospect.

“The fact that we may play India three times in this tournament is a challenge for us and something for us to enjoy as well,” he said, adding, “Pakistan-India games are watched by a lot of people and we also enjoy it. There is no pressure is such games and we just need to play our natural game and perform as per the game situation.”

In the recent series against Zimbabwe, openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam ul Haq were the major run scorers and that probably has left the middle-order without much practice, but Azam insisted that the middle-order, consisting veteran Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali, too have been in rich vein of form.

“Whilst the Pakistan top order in Zimbabwe did perform well, going back a bit, you will see that the middle order also has performed their roles and in that sense, Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali’s performances have been good. So it’s not true that the Asia Cup will be a challenge for the middle order as they may be out of practice; everyone is in good form and hopefully we will do well,” he added.

As for what his role in the team is, Azam said: “Whenever I go in to bat, I go in with the intention to bat through the innings and to avail the chance given to me, with the aim to build an innings and help my team.”