Babar Azam has brushed aside suggestions that captaining Pakistan in all three formats is affecting his batting performances. Babar was appointed Test captain in November last year and has scored 124 runs in four matches at an average of 20.66.
And while it’s an extremely small sample size, Babar’s assertion that captaincy has made him perform well with the bat holds merit in the limited-overs format. In nine ODIs Babar has led Pakistan, he averages 78.25 in comparison to 54.17 when he was in the team just a batsman. In T20Is, Babar has led the side in 24 matches and scored 863 runs at an average of 43.15 and a strike rate of 137.4. In the 33 matches he played as a batsman, Babar made 1290 runs at 49.61 and struck the runs at 126.59.
“I think it’s important to understand what is captaincy. It’s all about on-field encouraging the players, when the bowlers get hit, you have to back them. Back the batsmen when the scores aren’t coming,” Babar said ahead of the T20I series against West Indies.
“From the time I’ve become captain, the margin of error is more and the expectations have also increased. I try to perform in every match. Since the time I’ve become captain, my performances have improved as well. I take it as a challenge. Hopefully, I can carry on and I can improve even more.”
Pakistan go into the series after ODI and T20I series defeats against England. And while the side will aim to bounce back, Babar stressed the think-tank wants to try out different combinations before the T20 World Cup later this year. “The aim is to play different combinations in this series and also check our bench strength,” he pointed out. “The guys have done well in PSL as well. We are going to back them.
“We have played some good cricket against West Indies. We have a very good record against them. We played different cricket in England. Our aim is to play fearless cricket. West Indies have been trying out different combinations. We are also going to do the same.”
With four T20Is in the series, Pakistan will hope for a better showing from their bowlers against a power-packed West Indies line-up. However, Babar acknowledged the way they field will also have a say in how the team fares. “We’ve discussed our mistakes and our aim is to not repeat them,” Babar said. “The players need to be given confidence. We’ve worked very hard on our fielding. It was lacking but we’ve worked on it in the last two days.”