The Pakistani captain got this target in the press conference on the occasion of the first Test in Rawalpindi. “We are excited about the prospect of playing the WTC final. It is an important series for him. We have a golden opportunity to achieve it if we win four of the next five Tests. [three against England followed by two against New Zealand].
“It took us about a week to prepare for the series, so that was great and gave us some edge and momentum. The best part was that the first-class matches were on so some of the players had already had the Red Ball. They were playing cricket.”
Shaheen Afridi’s absence for the series is the biggest availability issue for Pakistan, especially since Hasan Ali’s absence means the hosts’ bowling line-up will be inexperienced. Naseem Shah’s 13 Tests makes him the most experienced bowling option for Pakistan. Fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Muhammad Ali are yet to make their Test debuts, while spinner Abrar Ahmed is set to play his first Test in Rawalpindi.
“Yes, they have more experience bowling with James Anderson in their ranks and his experience gives them a bit of an edge,” admitted Babar. “But our bowling is good and will give England a tough time. Naseem is bowling well and England are doing what they are doing. [this summer]I am confident in my bowling. I am sure they will do their best to help us win.”
The biggest challenge for Babar comes from the quick adjustment from the shortest to the longest formats. Between the start of the Asia Cup in August and the World Cup final, the T20I was the only format played by Pakistan, with a total of 25 matches. Less than three weeks later, they are set for a high-profile three-match Test series at home.
This was a point which Babur accepted without complaint. “We all know that cricket is very busy. Every month we have something coming up. But as professionals we need to be active. Coming from limited overs cricket to Tests is difficult but as professionals we are used to it. “
After missing out on the ICC title earlier this month, Babar seems to have already turned his attention to the next one. The next five weeks will determine whether Pakistan have done enough to put themselves in contention for him.