Islamabad, Feb 17: Pakistan head coach Saqlain Mushtaq has backed the leadership qualities of all-format captain Babar Azam ahead of next month's historic home series against Australia.
Babar has captained Karachi Kings to eight consecutive Twenty20 loses in the Pakistan Super League and has scored only two half-centuries. The 2020 champions are out of contention for the playoffs.
"Babar Azam is world No. 1 player, and he has performed outstandingly for Pakistan," Mushtaq told reporters Thursday. "T20 cricket is all about momentum. All the six teams (in PSL) are very strong, but the team which gets the momentum takes the edge. Unfortunately, Karachi couldn't get the momentum."
Babar is fifth in PSL scoring with 268 runs in eight games. "I have no doubt about Babar," Mushtaq said. "He's a world-class player, strong leader, equally good against spin and fast bowlers. He has played lots of knocks for Pakistan and every (cricket) expert in the world talks about him."
Australia makes its first trip to Pakistan in 24 years to play three test matches, three ODIs and a one-off T20. The Aussies are due to arrive on Feb. 27. The tour starts in Rawalpindi on March 4 with the first test, followed by test matches in Karachi and Lahore.
The ODIs and a T20 will be played at Rawalpindi. Pakistan test players have started a training camp in Karachi under the supervision of Mushtaq and batting coach Mohammad Yousuf. They'll shift to Rawalpindi later this month.
Australia is the top-ranked test team in the world and will be touring Pakistan on the back of its 4-0 Ashes win at home against England. Led by Pat Cummins, Australia is at No. 2 on the ICC World Test Championship points table behind Sri Lanka while Pakistan occupies the No. 3 spot.
Mushtaq was hopeful the home conditions will suit his players against Australia. "They play tough cricket," Mushtaq said.
"Wherever they go, they go with full preparation and obviously we have to play tough cricket against them. They had a really good series against England, but they are coming to our territory and we will give our best."