Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said that there can be no room for complacency for his side who will be taking on a weakened English side, which he feels still boasts of plenty of quality players. Azam revealed that the team sat down with the analyst to learn about the unknown, fresh faces in the squad.
The entire complexion of the three-match ODI series between Pakistan and England changed on Tuesday as the ECB were forced to name a completely fresh ODI squad owing to the original members going into isolation due to a mini Covid outbreak. In the revised squad, the ECB named as many as nine uncapped players, and, outside of Ben Stokes and Dawid Malan, there is a dearth of white-ball experience in the squad that features youngsters and fringe players aplenty.
The recent mishappenings within the English camp, that forced the managed to hastily string together a ‘C’ side, have led to many touting Pakistan as the favourites, but skipper Babar Azam is unwilling to let any complacency seep in. Speaking ahead of the first ODI, Azam attested that the ‘weakened’ English side also boasts of quality players whom he has played with and against, and revealed that he and his teammates also have ensured to thoroughly study the unknown players with the help of the team analyst.
"We know most of them but there were a couple of new faces in the squad and we sat together with the analyst, we worked on them, we have seen footage of their county matches," Azam said on Wednesday, reported Cricbuzz.
"They may be new players but they are playing for England so we won't take them lightly. I know a few of them, having played in T20 Blast, and those we don't know we have researched their performances."
Four months ago, Azam saw the Pakistan Super League (PSL) get suspended mid-way due to a COVID outbreak, but the Pakistan skipper asserted that, here, at no point did a potential cancellation cross the Pakistan team’s mind. The 26-year-old admitted that players are having to deal with unprecedented times, and thanked the ECB and PCB for taking care of the cricketers.
"No, we didn't think about it, it didn't come to our minds at any time," Azam said of a potential cancelation.
"The PCB and ECB have assured us that they will take care of the safety and health of all the squad members. We must understand that these are unprecedented times of Covid-19. I want to acknowledge my players who have spent the last 18 months in and out of bio-secure bubbles and we have prepared in that. For now we are focusing on cricket and tomorrow's game."
Pakistan have not played an ODI in three months, but Azam is confident of his side putting up a good showing come the first game in Cardiff. A win on Thursday will push the Men in Green to second in the ODI Super League table.
"We've been training for the last 10 days in Derby and have played 3-4 inter-squad practice games in that time," Azam said.
"We haven't played ODIs for a while so we had to get into that mode. But the players are looking in good touch. We have good memories of Cardiff where we beat Sri Lanka and England [in the 2017 Champions Trophy] and we're looking forward to a good result tomorrow as well."