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‘Who wants to be the next Babar Azam?’ Ijaz Ahmed lifts team spirit

Pakistan Shaheens head coach Ijaz Ahmed on Monday said that Babar Azam’s absence in the T20I series against New Zealand is a great loss for the team and they are focused on lifting players’ morale in these difficult times.

Talking to media in virtual press conference from Queenstown, the 52-year-old said that they are trying to lift team’s spirits by asking players who want to be the next Babar Azam.

“Injuries definitely make a difference but we have mobilized the players saying cricket is a team game. We’ve asked the players ‘now who would want to be Babar Azam?’ such things have encouraged them,” he said.

Ijaz said that both Babar and Imam-ul-Haq’s injuries will affect Pakistan team performance as they’re good players and hoped they will make a good comeback.

Ijaz Ahmed during virtual press conference

“Babar and Imam are good players. One of the characteristics of professional players is that they make a good comeback,” he said.

The former cricketer also thinks that this tour will be very important for young batsman Haider Ali as he will get a chance to learn and grow. “Haider is currently playing T20 format but I think he will soon play ODI and Test cricket and become a permanent member,” he said.

“It is included in my book that the player has to switch. You have to come from T20 to ODI and then from ODI to Test. Take the example of Australia’s David Warner, who first won the T20, then the ODIs and then the Tests. He is an example for our players to take advantage of when they have the opportunity in another format,” Ijaz added.

The Sialkot born coach added that it was not easy for the players to start training after 14 days of quarantine. “Players faced problems in the first two or three days but now they have become accustomed to full training. The cricketers have trained more than what was scheduled and have also benefited a lot from practice matches,” he concluded.

Pakistan Shaheens will arrive in Whangarei today where the team will play the only four-day match against New Zealand A on December 17. 

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