Skipper Babar Azam’s next goal is

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam is eyeing the World Cup as his next goal, as he prepares to play his 100th One-day International against New Zealand in the fifth and final ODI. Speaking to PCB Digital, Babar said, “Being the captain of a World Cup-winning side would be sweet.” Pakistan recently reached the top of the ODI team rankings during their fourth ODI victory against New Zealand in Karachi, giving them hope for success at the upcoming 50-over World Cup being held in India. Babar reflected on his journey, recalling the first time he was called upon to the team, and how he has had to make many sacrifices on his road to becoming an international cricketer.

Once in the national team, Babar had a good start to his career but struggled to convert starts to big knocks. He credits former head coach, now team director, Mickey Arthur for his turnaround with three centuries on the trot against West Indies in 2016 in the UAE. Babar was elevated to captaincy in 2019, and his numbers took an instant spike as he enjoyed the additional responsibility. In ODIs, he averages over 75 as captain and has seven tons in 25 matches. All three of his T20 International tons also came as skipper of the side. In Tests, the difference was profound with his average going over 50 as captain.

“The most crucial bit in leading a team is to provide clarity to each and every player and have honest and open communication with the players. This breeds positivity in the team environment and brings everyone together as a team. As a captain, you have a kind of a dual responsibility because as a non-captain, you only focus on your field and batting, but now you also have to run a team. I enjoy taking responsibility and it brings the best out of me,” Babar said.

Meanwhile, fast bowler Matt Henry hopes New Zealand can avoid a series whitewash in Pakistan by producing an improved display in the fifth ODI. The team under Tom Latham managed to draw the preceding T20 series 2-2 but Pakistan have taken an unassailable 4-0 lead in the one-day series. In the fourth ODI, skipper Babar smashed 107 to help Pakistan post a commanding 334-6. In reply, New Zealand were all out for 232 in the 44th over to succumb to a 102-run defeat. “It’s a shame we really haven’t had the success that we wanted to,” Henry said. “Even though it’s not nice not to have won, we’re definitely taking some positives out of this tour so far. We’ve still got one game to go and hopefully we can put that performance together.”