Babar Azam believes Central Punjab have the batting firepower to advance to the knockout stages as he takes charge of the team for the Rawalpindi leg of the National T20 Cup.
Babar had quarantined himself after returning from England, where he was a part of Somerset's outfit for their T20 Blast campaign.
The world No. 1 T20I batsman was an integral member of Pakistan's Test and T20I series against England before smashing his career-best score during his stint with Somerset.
Babar now takes over the reins of Central Punjab from Saad Nasim, under whose leadership the team has struggled to get going and managed only one win in five games.
“I am eager to join the bio-secure bubble for the National T20 Cup as it has been a long time since I met all these cricketers with whom I have played cricket in my early days," Babar said in the PCB Podcast.
"I am looking forward to the opportunity to engage with my friends and colleagues from all the six teams," he added.
The 25-year-old further highlighted Central Punjab's batting excellence, which has been spearheaded by Abdullah Shafique, who set the tournament alight with a glorious ton on his T20 debut.
While Shafique has been leading the run charts, contributions from the rest of the batsmen have been few for Central Punjab with the middle-order particularly troubled by issues of a low strike rate. Babar hoped concerns of a lack of consistency would cease to exist once the second half of National T20 Cup commences.
“We had some issues with our bowling line-up in terms of quality and experience in the last season, but we are confident of overcoming those issues this season. Our batting has always been our strength and I am backing my batsmen to do well and lead us to the semi-finals stage," he said.
Babar's inclusion in the top-order surely boosts the Central Punjab line-up, which was condemned to a last-place finish in 2019.
Babar is currently fourth on the list of highest run-getters in the shortest format this year and continues to be the most prized asset in the Pakistan team across all forms of the game.
“A great player is one who can stay focus in pressure situations. I work hard on the mental aspect of my game as I feel mental strength is a key to success," he assessed.
“I feel a player’s talent and pedigree is gauged by his temperament and the ability to stay long at the crease which helps him make big runs.”
“I stick to my natural game in all three formats and back myself to play my shots. Of course, at times, you need different approaches and I try to adapt according to the given situation," Babar elaborated.
Following the conclusion of the National T20 Cup, Pakistan is set to welcome back international cricket on its shores with the limited-overs series against Zimbabwe scheduled to begin on October 30.
Although Pakistan start as favourites for the home assignment, the selectors would be keen on making some changes to the team and Babar hinted at the ongoing domestic competition serving as a springboard for young talent.
“This tournament [National T20 Cup] is an excellent opportunity for youngsters to impress and stake a claim for a spot in the team that will play Zimbabwe. The series will also serve as practice for the tour of New Zealand later this year.”