T20 World Cup: Babar Azam is an ‘excellent leader’, Suresh Raina says | Sports

Former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina (L) and Pakistani skipper Babar Azam. — Twitter/File
Former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina (L) and Pakistani skipper Babar Azam. — Twitter/File
  • “It is going to be a good contest with Virat in one corner and Babar in another,” Indian great says.
  • Recalls that India-Pakistan game is always a “high-pressure game”.
  • “It is cricket at its best,” he says, ahead of the much-anticipated match.

KARACHI: Pakistani skipper Babar Azam is an “excellent leader,” wrote former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina ahead of the high voltage India-Pakistan game in the ICC T20 World Cup.

In a column written for the ICC, the former cricketer wrote that there will be “so much passion on display from both the teams” on Sunday during the much-anticipated game.

“This year, it (Pakistan vs India game) will be exciting as both Virat Kohli and Babar Azam are excellent leaders, and knowing how important the game is, there will be so much passion on show from both teams. You know that the captains will set the example on that front and that passion filters through to the rest of the team,” wrote Raina, who has represented India in over 300 international games.

“Azam is one of the leading T20I batters in the world. Like Virat Kohli, he is proof that good batting and good captaincy go hand in hand,” the cricketer, who retired from the international sport last year, wrote further.

Sharing his experience of playing against Pakistan, Raina narrated that the team has always played their hearts out.

“When India and Pakistan play, it is always exciting and good for fans to watch. Millions of people tune in and expect to be entertained — they are never disappointed,” he said.

“If you ask me, as a player, it was always a high-pressure game. In the build-up, everyone is just telling you how big it is,” Raina said.

Mentioning the key to excelling in India-Pakistan games, Raina said that one needs to make sure “you calm your nerves, focus on the process and play 40 overs of good cricket.”

“It is easier said than done, but it is the only way to try to win that game. It is all about handling the pressure and enjoying the game — if you can. “That’s what India has always done over the years, and tried to go out and do it for our country,” he said.

Discussing the strength of the Pakistani team, Raina said that Babar has senior players around him like Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez, who will help him because this is still the first major tournament in which he is captaining the team.

“It is going to be a good contest with Virat in one corner and Babar in another. They are both competitive guys who know what the rivalry is all about,” Raina said.

“The fans have enjoyed this rivalry over the years and it is cricket at its best,” he maintained.

He wrote: “It has come down the generations from Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Sourav Ganguly, Inzamam-ul-Haq, MS Dhoni and now we have Kohli and Babar.”

“It’s a great legacy to have and I hope we get another game to remember,” he concluded.

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