Babar Azam and Shahid Afridi. - File

Pakistan captain Babar Azam has said that the playing XI for the first Test against New Zealand will be decided after a discussion with the chairman of selectors, Shahid Afridi, and insisted that players who will be best for the team will get the opportunity to play.

Speaking ahead of the first Test, Babar admitted that Pakistan made some mistakes in the three-match series against England but players are now confident of a good show against New Zealand.

He said that players are unfazed about the administrative changes in the board and are focused on what they can do on the ground.

“Things have changed in the past two or three days but as a professional, you have to face such things. Our job is to put effort on the ground, perform and apply what best we have. These things are out of the ground and our full focus is on the ground as to how to win the matches, how to take a good start in the series and how to do well in all three departments of the game,” he said.

“We could not play the last series the way we wanted because we committed mistakes that left us behind. Now we need to overcome those mistakes and try to play good cricket,” Babar added.

He said that the final XI for the first Test has not been decided and a final decision will be made after consultation with Shahid Afridi – the newly appointed chairman of selectors.

The Pakistani captain said that he was also consulted before three players were added to the Test squad by the selection committee last night.

“We will have a discussion with the selectors. Then we will decide the final XI, what is the best for the team we will pick, it’s not who to play it is about the best combination, what is the best for the team,” he said.

“We had a debate as to how we carry that forward. He [chief selector] has his own mindset. I gave my opinion and then we decided,” Babar said when asked if he was involved in the decision to include Mir Hamza, Sajid Khan and Shahnawaz Dahani in the squad.

Babar said that the pitch looks the same as we had in past during the series against Australia. It changes day by day and things will get different.

He said that it is easier to say from the outside that I am not aggressive as captain but things from the middle are very different.

“Even when I am sitting outside and seeing games, I feel like he should’ve done this or that but things are not as same in the middle as you see them from outside,”

“I adopt my strategy seeing how my opponent is playing,” the Pakistani skipper said.

Babar insisted that Pakistan’s batting has done well in the last series as well but in patches. “In Tests, you have to bat for longer periods. You have to show patience as a batting unit. I think bowling will also stage a comeback because we had some injuries so at this time our batting line is strong,” he highlighted.

When asked his thoughts on players publicly posting comments on social media in his favour, Babar said that everyone has his own mindset players always support each other.

“It’s our unit and that unity, not that they are supporting me only, they support each other. When you lose, such things come up. All sportsmen support each other. As a player and as a captain I keep myself in my zone. Yes, we have lost a series but Insha’Allah we will stage a comeback,” he said.

“To be honest I don’t take the pressure. If you take pressure your game goes down. I have a belief that its a new day, a new team and a new match so things will be different,” he concluded.

Test squad

Babar Azam (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Sajid Khan, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood

Revised itinerary

26-30 December — 1st Test, Karachi

2-6 January — 2nd Test, Karachi

9 January — 1st ODI, Karachi

11 January — 2nd ODI, Karachi

13 January — 3rd ODI, Karachi


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