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Babar has come a long way: Sikandar Raza

ISLAMABAD: Zimbabwe’s all-rounder Sikandar Raza believes Pakistani limited-overs Skipper Babar Azam was one of the best batsman in all formats saying the young prolific Lahore-born batsman has come a long way.

Raza has heaped praise on Babar and recalled his experience of watching him during the 2010 Under 19 World Cup.

“Babar Azam is one of the best batsman in all formats for Pakistan and to see him like that gives me immense pleasure. I saw Babar during the U19 World Cup in 2010, when he was 16 of 17 years old, and he has come a long way since then, I must say that it has been a great transformation. I pray and I wish him success,” cricketpakistan.com.pk quoted him as saying.

The 34-year-old, who was born in Sialkot, also appreciated the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)’s arrangements for the touring party, ahead of the ODI and T20I series.

“I have a special bond with Pakistan and it will always be like that. I have relatives over here and always feel good to be back in Pakistan. Things have changed due to COVID-19 protocols but I must say that the PCB is looking after us really well. It should be a good series with Pakistan.”

The Zimbabwe team suffered a setback after their head coach, Lalchand Rajput, did not accompany the team for Pakistan tour, but Raza believes that this was not a big loss for the side.

“I personally think it is not a big loss that our head coach is not with us as we had worked on our plans before coming here. If there was a player missing, then would have been a different story altogether,” he said.

He was also confident about his team’s preparations and touted middle-order batsman Craig Ervine to be one of the better performers during the series.

“Before coming to Pakistan, we played three ODIs and three T20s as warm-up matches which went well. We are as prepared as we can in difficult times and we will also utilize the next 10 days to get our skills back up,” he said.

“We have good players in the squad, even though the results might not show that. I think, Craig Ervine will have a good series,” he said.

Raza also believes that his team is headed in the right direction, when asked about the dip in Zimbabwe’s performance in the recent past.

“I think we are heading in the right direction but it’s easy for me to say that. I will talk to you after the series and I will ask you the same question about our team’s performance and direction,” he said.

The three ODIs, between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, were set to be played in Rawalpindi on October 30, November 1 and 3, while the three T20s would be held at Gaddafi Stadium on November 7, 8 and 10.

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.