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Babar Azam assures "no pressure" as he assumes all-format leadership role
Pakistan News

Babar Azam assures "no pressure" as he assumes all-format leadership role

Babar Azam has discarded all notions of added pressure on him after becoming Pakistan's all-format skipper as he prepares for the upcoming tour of New Zealand comprising of three T20Is and two Tests.

Babar was recently elevated to Test captaincy following the removal of Azhar Ali after a little over one year in charge of the red-ball side.

His promotion to the leadership role in all formats of the game has cast doubts over his abilities to simultaneously handle his status of being Pakistan's premier batsman in world cricket.

Additionally, the surprise sacking of Azhar and his predecessor Sarfaraz Ahmed has regenerated fears about the traditionally fragile rank of captain in the Pakistan team. With Babar newly appointed in the same position, critics are wary of a possibly similar treatment meted out to Pakistan's blue-eyed boy.

However, the 26-year-old has reiterated that the PCB plans to stick with him at the helm of affairs for a relatively long period.

"PCB has given me the confidence to not worry about results and assured me that I am a part of their long-term plans," Babar said in a press conference ahead of the team's departure to New Zealand.

"There is no pressure by the PCB about grave consequences if I lose a series since they have given me the freedom by promising a long-term commitment."

"The job will not affect my batting, I try to take responsibility as I know the team relies on me and I enjoy batting under pressure."

Babar has plenty of experience captaining Pakistan in the shorter forms with the team prevailing against Zimbabwe at home in the ODI and T20I fixtures in Rawalpindi.

He was thus aware of the completely different dynamics involved in Test cricket and claimed he would be keen on learning on the job from some of the seniors in the side.

"Every day you meet new challenges but you have to confidently counter them. I have learnt a lot from my stint as the white-ball leader over the past year and will apply that in Test cricket.

"I was also the vice-captain in Test cricket and have got the chance to learn under Sarfaraz Ahmed and Azhar Ali. When you play with senior players, they share important insight with you. I am getting assistance from the seniors, though in the end, I will be the one who will make the final decision according to my mindset," Babar added.

Smarting from a series defeat in England, Pakistan will be eying an improvement in their ability to triumph in tense moments. Pakistan botched a chance to gain a series lead in the first Test when they had England five down for 117 before Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler starred in a brilliant partnership to snatch victory from the visitors.

Nevertheless, Babar was optimistic about his players rising up to the occasion in New Zealand and invoked the mantra of backing youngsters and veterans alike.

Babar drew from his personal Test struggles in the initial stages of his career and spoke about previous head coach Mickey Arthur's influence on his incessant growth in the format.

"Touring abroad is always a challenge. Several individual performances in England were appreciable. Naseem and Shaheen bowled well and the experienced Azhar also played well. I believe the more you back a player, it works in your favour," he stated.

"Personally, I was struggling in Test cricket early on but I had the support of the management and especially Mickey [Arthur], who backed me against all odds and a year later, I was able to repay that trust."