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Babar Azam Backs Gary Kirsten To Bring In Positive Changes In Pakistan Cricket

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Lahore, May 6 (PTI) Pakistan limited overs skipper Babar Azam is optimistic that Gary Kirsten’s appointment as head coach of Pakistan’s white ball side will certainly improve its performance.

The South African was roped in as the team’s limited overs head coach last month on a two-year contract, and this would be his third outing as an international coach, having guided India (2008-11) and South Africa (2011-13).

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“He (Kirsten) is a very experienced coach, and his presence should be beneficial for us all. He is already taking a lot of interest in the planning for the World Cup and discussing strategy with the team management,” Babar told a media conference in Lahore on Monday.
Babar said Kirsten was in touch with the side daily, receiving reports about what they were doing and how they were planning things.

“He (Kirsten) shares his plans with us, discussions are happening with coaches about our planning, and we update him on net practice plans, like how the bowling practice went today,” he said.
Babar said there was already steady line of communication between him and Kirsten and he is looking forward to his arrival.

The Pakistan skipper also dismissed concerns over some selections as the squad leaves for Ireland.
Pakistani selectors will finalize the final 15-member squad for the global tournament from the same 18 players based on the form and fitness of players in Ireland and England. Kirsten is expected to join the team in England.

“There is no issue about the top order as to who will open from amongst me, Rizwan, Saim or Fakhar. All decisions will be based on keeping in mind the team’s interests. There is no confusion there,” Babar said.
He clarified that young and new players like Ayub, Azam, Irfan Khan and Usman Khan would require time to settle down in international cricket, and the management would back them completely in the lead-up to the World Cup.

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“I think there is little time for rotation now because the World Cup is around the corner, and in the remaining matches. We will try to give the team we want to play with in the World Cup a proper opportunity,” Babar continued.
“We will sort out whatever our bowling and batting combination is, and we have almost done that. We will play with our best possible XI in the remaining matches.”

Asked if Pakistan was specifically strategizing to stop India’s in-form batter Virat Kohli from scoring against them, Babar said that as a team, one always looked at the best players in an opposing team as the aim was to win against eleven players.

“The thing is, we plan against all eleven players of a team, and we don’t know much about how the conditions will be in New York. But yes, he [Kohli] is one of the best players, and we will plan against him as well,” Babar said.

Babar also made it clear there were no internal rifts in the team over the captaincy issue, and he was also excited about his second stint as Pakistan captain.

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“Whatever success I achieved previously as captain was because of the players who supported me, and the same is true now. Important is the board is backing us completely to do well,” he concluded.

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