Ahead of his first series as Pakistan's new ODI captain, Babar Azam has said he wants to see "aggressive and fearless cricket" from his side as they embark on their ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League campaign.
Pakistan begin their three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe on Friday, 30 October, which will mark their first matches in the format since Babar's appointment as skipper, following their 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka in October 2019. It will also mark the start of the qualification process for the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup for both sides, with 30 points up for grabs in the series.
"To keep up with the modern-day requirements of fast-paced cricket, we need to be super fit," Babar said. "As the leaders of the group, both Shadab and I need to set an example with our fitness and commitment. We have a lot of cricket lined up and the only method for us to regain our spot at the top of the rankings is aggressive and fearless cricket."
Best performers for both sides from Zimbabwe's last tour of Pakistan:— ICC (@ICC) October 23, 2020
Top ODI batsmen:
🇵🇰 Azhar Ali ➜ 227 runs
🇿🇼 Chamu Chibhabha ➜ 138 runs
Top ODI bowlers:
🇵🇰 Wahab Riaz ➜ 5 wickets
🇿🇼 Sikander Raza ➜ 3 wickets
Who will fill those slots this time? pic.twitter.com/epN5sM6vrI
Pakistan currently sit at No.6 on the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings, a situation they will no doubt be looking to improve upon, though the new captain is not restricting his focus to just one format.
"We need to work on overall improvement in all three formats of the game," he added. "We are looking forward to starting the journey on a positive note with the series against Zimbabwe; it is an opportunity for us to please our fans who would not be able to watch us from the stands due to the COVID-19-related challenges. We can, however, bring them joy by doing well in the series and by giving performances that please them.
"My request to the fans is that we need their support, just the way they supported us during the England tour and the National T20 Cup, which provided rich entertainment in a highly-competitive environment."
Babar will be supported in his captaincy duties by new vice-captain Shadab Khan, who echoed his skipper's comments, as well as adding that the side will not take Zimbabwe – who are No.14 in the rankings – lightly.
"We won’t be taking Zimbabwe lightly at all. We are fully focused on the job at hand and during the season we are very keen on improving both our game and fitness.
"Many players discuss fitness and how to improve in that area which is a positive sign indeed. For us, each and every point in the Cricket World Cup Super League matters. A convincing victory against Zimbabwe will hold us in good stead when we depart for the tour of New Zealand."
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