On Saturday, Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam urged his team to capitalise on its recent string of four victories by winning the Twenty20 World Cup final.
India lost to Zimbabwe
The 2009 champions lost to India and Zimbabwe on the final ball to begin their tournament, but they recovered to get to Sunday’s final against England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
In his pre-game press conference, Azam stated, “We have lost the first two matches, [but] the way we have recovered in the subsequent four matches, we have played extremely well.”
“I’m more ecstatic than anxious. There is no denying that there is pressure, but we can only overcome it by having faith in ourselves. It is crucial to follow through with this in order to get good results.”
Jos Buttler’s England are the small underdogs against Pakistan, but Azam is counting on the potency of his fast bowlers to give Pakistan the upper hand, especially during the six-over powerplay.
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“England’s [10-wicket] victory against India to get to the finals was evidence that they are a competitive squad,” he claimed.
“In order to win the finals, our strategy is to keep to our plan and use our tempo assault as a strength.”
“For the contest, it will be crucial to use the powerplay to take as many wickets as possible,” he continued.
Pakistan is expected to select the same lineup, with Shaheen Shah Afridi leading a threatening attack and Azam and Mohammad Rizwan leading the batting, notwithstanding any late injuries.
Ramiz Raja, the head of the Pakistan Cricket Board, met with the players on Friday and gave them a motivational speech while recalling how the Pakistani team he was a part of defeated England to win the 1992 one-day World Cup.
“The chairman’s visit and discussion of his World Cup experience gave us a huge confidence boost,” added Azam. “He counselled us to remain composed and concentrate on the positive.”
When Pakistan played India early in the tournament, the MCG was filled with more than 90,000 spectators, and they have had strong support everywhere they have played in Australia.
They “give us confidence,” he said. “It’s fantastic to see they come and support the Pakistan team when we go anyplace, any stadium.”