Pakistan captain Babar Azam on Thursday denied any knowledge of any potential change in the team's leadership amid rumours that new chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board — Ramiz Raja — was monitoring the situation and could wield his proverbial axe if his expectations were not met.
Raja, in his first press conference after taking over the board, had shied away from endorsing Azam as the all-format captain, saying that it was "too early" to give his assessment but also adding: "My expectations for Babar are the same as I had with Imran Khan."
Addressing a press conference today, Azam was asked whether the new PCB chief had hinted of any changes, to which he replied: “I have no idea about it so far.”
Regarding reports of his alleged differences with the team management over squad selection for next month's World T20, Azam explained that the chairman and the chief selector had clarified those reports, before adding: “I had an input that I gave. This is not anyone’s team, this is Pakistan’s team. I am backing it and others should also do so.”
Talking about the New Zealand ODI series commencing Friday, Azam refused to take the Black Caps lightly despite them missing a host of regulars.
“You cannot take any team easy," he said. "[Of course], if they (New Zealand) had their main players, we would have enjoyed more.".
Azam said the conditions in the upcoming series will be similar to the ones likely to encounter during the World Cup in the Middle East.
He said work was being done to improve the team's middle order. “We will try to go with our best combination,” he added.
To a question about the chances of the team picking three spinners in the first ODI against New Zealand, Azam said the decision in this regard would be taken on the match day after pitch assessment.
“Our World T20 matches are in the UAE, and we are forming a team keeping in view that aspect as well. The more we utilise our spinners, it will be good for us,” the skipper said.
Responding to a question about newcomer Abdullah Shafiq, Azam said the player had made significant improvement, adding he could replace any underperforming opener in time to come.
He admitted the team was struggling in the field, saying the players were working on it and assured there would be some improvements in the upcoming series.