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'I advise Babar Azam to take his own decisions fearlessly' - Younis Khan
Pakistan News

'I advise Babar Azam to take his own decisions fearlessly' - Younis Khan

Pakistan batting coach Younis Khan has urged Babar Azam to "take the initiative" and assert himself while leading the national T20I and ODI sides.

Babar was appointed Pakistan's T20I skipper following the abrupt sacking of Sarfaraz Ahmed in the aftermath of the home series whitewash at the hands of Sri Lanka in October 2019.

Babar's promotion to the leadership position started off with a series loss in Australia before salvaging pride with a couple of wins over Bangladesh in Lahore, though they slipped to No. 4 in the rankings following a 27-month reign at the top.

Pakistan currently trail England 0-1 in the ongoing series as they failed to defend an imposing total of 195 on Sunday at Old Trafford.

During England's successful chase, Babar often appeared inadequate at smartly executing an authoritative role on the field with other senior players flooding him with suggestions or rushing in to engage in discussions with the bowler.

Responding to the criticism directed at Babar in light of the five-wicket defeat, Younis acknowledged Babar's limitations in the presence of veteran campaigners but encouraged the 25-year-old to be bold in making decisions.

"Babar Azam has been our T20I and ODI captain for quite a while. Sometimes, it becomes difficult for a skipper when he gets suggestions from the support staff and senior players on the field. But the good thing is, all suggestions are for the betterment of the team," Younis told reporters in a conference call.

"Whenever I have a one-on-one discussion with him on leadership, I advise him to take the initiative himself and learn to make his own decisions.

"We often get the perception that the dressing room is intervening but when you are leading the side, you have to make your own decisions and when your intentions are good, even the poor decisions reap rewards."

Younis also drew from his own captaincy experience to drive home this point. "As a captain, I made many mistakes but the intention was always positive. My suggestion for him is to take decisions fearlessly, even with wrong steps, you learn," he added.

'We should have posted a better total'

Delving deeper into the reasons explaining Pakistan's slip-up in the second T20I, Younis felt the batsmen could have made an extra effort to push the total past 200. He said the pitch was flat enough to further accelerate and punish the bowlers.

"We could have set a bigger target [in the second T20I]. Whenever the momentum is on your side, it is important to finish strongly. If we focus on the stats on the ground, it might be possible that it was a good score but I believe we could have posted a better total," he noted.

"We had the opportunity to put the opposition under pressure. It would have been great to have breached the 200-run mark. England's batting, on the other hand, kept us under pressure throughout their innings, which led to mistakes from our bowlers."

Pakistan's highest-scorer in their innings was Mohammad Hafeez, who smashed 69 off 36 deliveries in an immaculate knock laced with four maximums.

However, questions continue to be posed over the selection of 39-year-old Hafeez and 38-year-old Shoaib Malik since it contradicts the mantra of building the team for the future.

But Younis backed the duo and admonished doubters for pointing fingers at players just on the basis of their seniority.

"The way Mohammad Hafeez played in the second T20I, wouldn't we want him to perform like this in every match. If Hafeez keeps improving his fitness levels and his strike rate, why would we exclude him from the team?" Younis asked rhetorically.

"Until the next T20 World Cup, we have about 20-21 matches and if Hafeez and Shoaib Malik maintain their fitness levels across these games, we wouldn't want to drop them. I get the thought process behind inducting young blood in the T20 format but how can you guarantee the performance of fresh players."

He also cited the example of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who finished their respective T20I careers on a high note by helping Sri Lanka win the world event in 2014.