KARACHI: Babar Azam has no intention of giving up the Pakistan captaincy despite overseeing a first-ever 3-0 Test series whitewash at home, saying that leading the side was “a matter of honour”.
Pakistan lost to England Tuesday in the third and final Test in Karachi by eight wickets, after going down in the first two matches by 74 runs in Rawalpindi and 26 in Multan.
It was also the first time Pakistan have lost four Tests on the trot, having been beaten by Australia in Lahore in March.
Asked if he would quit the captaincy to concentrate on batting, Azam told a news conference he still enjoyed the challenge.
“Captaincy is a matter of honour for me. I will do whatever best I can for my country and for myself,” he said.
“I enjoy it more when under pressure and it doesn’t affect my batting.” But Azam acknowledged his disappointment at the result of the series.
“We could not apply ourselves in the series,” said Azam, who suffered his sixth defeat in 16 Tests as skipper.
“I keep Pakistan first and the rest after that. So that motive and my aim is paramount,” he said.
He also backed the players and team management, saying he was confident they would bounce back.
“I will defend other players as captain. I will take that front on… I will be there for others.” But he urged his teammates to rise to the challenge.
“Coaches give us plans and we have to execute that. It’s for the players to step up,” he said.
Azam, however, rued the loss through injury of key bowlers – specifically Shaheen Shah Afridi, who missed every game of the series, and Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah, who were out of the last two.
“We were unfortunate that our main fast bowlers were not fit and the new players we played could not execute the way we wanted,” he said.
Pakistan next face New Zealand in two Tests, with the first in Karachi beginning December 26.
Pakistan whitewash ‘pretty special’, says England skipper Stokes
England’s 3-0 series whitewash over Pakistan will take a while to sink in, skipper Ben Stokes said Tuesday, calling the result “pretty special”.**
“It won’t really sink in until we get home or in the new year,” Stokes said after securing what was only England’s second series whitewash in the subcontinent following a similar result in Sri Lanka in 2018.
“I know it’s a cliched thing, but being out in the subcontinent is one of the hardest places to do it,” Stokes said.
“I understand, and we understand, what we’ve done is pretty special… to win 3-0 out here, it will be something to be really proud of.”
The win validated England’s decision to play the bold and aggressive cricket dubbed “Bazball” after the nickname of head coach Brendon McCullum.
England under the new set-up of McCullum and Stokes have now triumphed in nine of their last 10 Tests since taking charge of a misfiring side that had won just one of their previous 17 – including a 4-0 Ashes humiliation in Australia.
Stokes said everything he tried came off on the slow and turning pitches of Pakistan. Seeing his tactics work in tough conditions “is the best thing”, Stokes said.
He had praise for every member of his side.
“I think everyone who has played has, at some point throughout the series, put their hand up and contributed to us winning a game,” he said.
“They’ve been amazing as well. Just a great place to be at the moment for a team, where everyone wants everyone to succeed and everyone understands their position in the team – even if they’re not playing.”
Stokes had warm words for leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, who at 18 years and 128 days became England’s youngest Test player and then the youngest in the world to take five wickets on debut.
“For an 18-year-old to come into his first Test match and have such a cricket-savvy brain – especially under Test-match pressure – was really good for us,” said Stokes.
“We got a sniff of what he can do with the bat as well. Very talented young man, and I think just let him progress.”