'Keeping fingers crossed' - Babar Azam hoping for T20 World Cup to get underway
Babar Azam has said he is praying the coronavirus pandemic would not ruin his first T20 World Cup in charge of the team.
Babar, who was recently appointed Pakistan's permanent white-ball captain, is keenly looking forward to the challenge of leading his side in the high-profile tournament later this year.
Australia will be hosting the T20 World Cup scheduled to commence in October but organisers are facing logistical issues involving the arrangement of bio-secure environments and quarantine measures for travelling squads.
The possibility of border restrictions extending further serves an additional hindrance to the World Cup plans while it is unlikely that the competition will feature spectators.
“It will be my first World Cup as skipper so I am praying for it and keeping fingers crossed,” Babar told reporters in a video conference.
The fate of the T20 World Cup will be discussed at the ICC board meeting in Dubai next week. Babar echoed Test skipper Azhar Ali's sentiments, saying that he had no problems playing matches behind closed doors drawing from his experience of Pakistan's contests in the UAE.
“It would be tough to play without fans because they cheer along and back you up, but who knows better than [us] how to play without crowds,” he said.
Pakistan faced a decade-long Test exile after terrorists attacked the visiting Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 in Lahore. As a result, Pakistan were forced to play most of their home games in the UAE where sparse or virtually no crowds witnessed their matches.
Babar, freshly promoted to Pakistan's top category in the central contract list, talked about the need to improve the team's rankings in every format.
“We are now fourth in Twenty20, sixth in ODIs and seventh in Tests which is not acceptable and I want to see improvements in that,” he added.
Pakistan's slip to the No. 4 spot in the T20I rankings has been quite alarming as they topped the charts for 26 months prior to their demotion. Sarfaraz Ahmed's removal from the captaincy post gradually paved the way for Pakistan's downfall last year as they won only one encounter from nine completed games.
Babar hoped to recover stability in Pakistan's T20I outfit and allow them to showcase excellent performances at the 20-over showpiece event.