Pakistan T20I Captain Babar Azam.
Pakistan T20I Captain Babar Azam. Image Credit: X

One of the most intense games in cricket is the encounter between the two arch-rivals- India and Pakistan. It’s the players who always feel the pressure of expectations, from fans all around the globe and find themselves in nervy moments, and it’s nothing different in the life of the current Pakistan captain Babar Azam.

India has been unbeaten against Pakistan in all the ODI World Cup games, but when it comes to the T20 World Cup encounters, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan carried them over the line with a 10-wicket victory during the 2021 edition.

During the last 50-over World Cup game against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Pakistan felt the pressure so much of being around the home fans who attended the game by a huge number.

‘Lifting the ICC trophy is a different motivation’ – Babar Azam

Babar Azam has just become the second batter in the history of the shortest format to score more than 4000 runs, after Virat Kohli. The Pakistan captain has smashed 4023 T20I runs in 112 innings at an average of 41.05 and a strike rate of 130.15, with three centuries and 36 fifties.

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The 29-year-old spoke about the hype and pressure around the India-Pakistan games, which certainly make the players nervous. But the basic, according to him is to stay calm and stick to the basics.

‘We know the Pakistan-India fixture generates more discussion than any other match. There is a different vibe altogether for this fixture, and there’s a lot of excitement too not just among players but also among the fans,” Babar Azam said during a PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) podcast on Sunday.

‘Wherever you go in the world, you’ll have people talking about the India-Pakistan match with everyone supporting their country. Every fan eagerly waits for this fixture and focuses on this one particular match,” Pakistan captain remarked during the same show.

‘The opening batter for Pakistan in T20Is spoke about how if they don’t look at the hypes as a player, then it becomes quite easy to deal with the pressure. It’s a game of immense pressure, and if you keep your head cool, stay calm and trust your hard work and skills, things will be easier,” veteran batter observed.

During the 2022 edition of the tournament, Pakistan missed quite a few chances during the final against England, and ended up as the ‘runners-up’ team.

‘For me, in 2022, we could and should have won the India game, but they took it away. The most hurtful was the defeat against Zimbabwe. It hurts more because we had played good cricket against India and people were praising our performance and fight back,” Babar Azam recalled that one-run thrilling lose to Zimbabwe at Perth.

The fourth-ranked T20I batter also nailed the importance of playing top-class cricket games, and focusing on efforts, given any result is possible in his format of the game.

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‘I am happy and excited because when you go to play in a major event, you have different excitement. It’s the aim of any cricketer to play in a World Cup, so that kind of feeling is coming over me. The hope is always to lift the trophy, but for that to happen, we have to play top cricket against every side.

“Effort is in our hands, but results, we do not know. How we present ourselves on the ground, our body language and how we communicate with each other will matter. We must be positive, so results will come,” Babar Azam explained.

The Pakistan captain also spoke about how his premier pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi’s injury during the final forced him to use a spinner, and that changed the context of the game.

But for him, winning an ICC trophy is still the ultimate goal, even after winning many individual trophies.

‘As a batter, I have achieved decently and, as a captain, I have won a few series. But lifting the ICC trophy is a different motivation. You go to a different level and get a lot of praise. So, the motivation, aspiration and dream remains to lift an ICC trophy and present it to Pakistan,” Babar Azam concluded.