Babar Azam changes his statement regarding boundary sizes in India

During ICC Captain’s day, Babar had said that the boundaries in India are small and there is no margin for the bowlers

Babar Azam changes his statement regarding boundary sizes in India PHOTO: AFP

The much-anticipated moment for the Pakistan cricket fans arrives on Friday as Pakistan begin their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 campaign against the Netherlands at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium. 

Since arriving in the city eight days ago, which also marked the first instance of a Pakistan men’s side landing in India in seven years, the Babar Azam’s side has made the most of the training sessions and two warm-up games to acclimatise in the city where they play first two of their nine league matches.  

The warm-up games against New Zealand and Australia also served opportunities to Pakistan to fine-tune their combinations and provide the much-needed match time to the entire squad. 
“We have been in Hyderabad for a week and our preparations have been really good,” Babar told PCB Digital on the eve of Pakistan’s tournament opener.

“We have had two practice matches in which we tried different combinations and gave everyone an opportunity to see if they could play in any situation. Overall our practice went well and we will give our best.”

“As far as my experience goes, and having watched matches in India on television, I’ll say the pitches seem really good. Matches are going to be high scoring. As for the boundaries, they are normal-sized, not too small but not too big either.”

However, during ICC Captain’s day on Wednesday, Babar said that the short boundaries at some Indian venues might reduce bowlers to cannon fodder over the next six weeks.

“The boundaries are small. There is no margin for the bowlers,” he had said on Wednesday. “If the bowling is a little bit off, the batsman utilises it. So, there will be high scores.”

Speaking about his last four years, the Pakistan captain said, “My journey has been really good. There have been ups and downs, which is natural. There have been challenges at times, but I have tried to live up to the expectations of the fans. I have met a lot of good people in the process. I met some very good teammates and was able to forge a bond with them. It has been three years since I have been playing with these boys so we have bonded well in this time. At the end of the day, we spend more time with each other than we get to spend with our families. We try to be happy with each other's performance and try to give our best for Pakistan.”

Recalling the Pakistan team’s reception at the Hyderabad airport last week, Babar expressed his gratitude towards the Indian people who have turned up in numbers to greet his side, and expressed hope that he will soon see the Pakistan fans across the country in the World Cup cheering their side. 

“We weren't expecting such a reception, to be honest. Many people showed up at the airport when we arrived here. They cheered for us and showed us support. A large crowd turned up in the last match. They seemed to really enjoy the game and they showed support for some of their favourite players. So it feels nice. I feel if we would have Pakistani fans here, it will feel even better.”

The Friday meeting between Pakistan and the Netherlands would be the seventh time they face off in an ODI. The two sides have faced off six times in the format, their first meeting in the 1996 iteration of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, and Pakistan have come out victorious on each occasion. Pakistan toured the Netherlands last year for what was the first bilateral series between the two sides, and recorded a clean-sweep.