Asia Cup 2023

Pakistan captain Babar Azam raises questions on Asia Cup 2023 schedule hours before start of tournament

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 7, 2022 Pakistan's captain Babar Azam speaks during a press conference on the eve of their first one-day international (ODI) cricket match against West Indies at the Multan Cricket Stadium in Multan. - High-flying skipper Babar Azam hopes that his extraordinary run-scoring can fire Pakistan to World Cup glory -- and in the process fulfil a childhood dream. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP)

Babar Azam said it would have been better if the Asia Cup had taken place entirely in Pakistan.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam has raised questions over the tight scheduling of the Asia Cup 2023, hours before the tournament begins with their match against Nepal in Multan on Tuesday. This year’s Asia Cup was supposed to be held in Pakistan, but due to India’s reservations about traveling to Pakistan, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) had no option but to host the tournament in a hybrid model. Sri Lanka was added as the host along with Pakistan. This is the first time in the history of the Asia Cup that the tournament will be played in two countries simultaneously. India will play all its matches in Sri Lanka, while all five other teams—Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Nepal—will travel from Pakistan to Sri Lanka or the other way around in a short interval.

Pakistan start their campaign on Wednesday against Nepal in Multan and then fly to Sri Lanka the very next day for the big-ticket clash against India at Pallekele on September 2. Within 24 hours, they are back in Lahore for their Super Four game on September 6 and then again fly back to Sri Lanka the next day for the next game on September 9.

Ahead of their Asia Cup 2023 opener against Nepal, Babar Azam said it would have been better had the tournament been played entirely in Pakistan.

Babar Azam raises questions on Asia Cup 2023 schedule hours before start of tournament

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“If you ask me, it would have been good if the whole tournament had been held in Pakistan, but unfortunately, nothing can be done about it,” Babar said at the pre-tournament media conference. “As professionals, we are ready for any schedule that is given to us. There would be traveling as well as back-to-back games, and we are ready for that,” said Babar.

Babar said they have planned their flight timings in such a manner that the players get adequate rest in between matches.

“Our coaches and support staff have chalked out plans about how much we would utilise each player and also we have booked our flights in such a manner, that our travelling schedule gives enough time to rest,” he added.

Babar Azam shares his thoughts on India match

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While he didn’t want to divulge his strategy about the India game, he expected that his team would put up the best show possible.

“We want to continue with this momentum. Pakistan’s match against India will be a high-intensity game and we want to play our best cricket on the given day,” he added.

The skipper, rated as one of the premier batters in contemporary cricket, is happy that Pakistan team is currently ranked No. 1 in ODIs and also a lot of their players are in top-10.

“I needed to take the team to a different level and change mindset. Now, we have at least 3-4 players in top-10 and when you set a standard, there will be expectations and you have to fulfil those expectations. Performances should be such that the team wins,” he added.

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