Four consecutive victories have filled Pakistan with a confidence that captain Babar Azam believes can propel them to glory in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Final in Australia on Sunday.
After losing their first two matches in the Super 12 stage, Pakistan bounced back to win their next four games and surge into the final, which will take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Speaking to journalists on Saturday, Babar says he expects Pakistan to continue riding the wave of winning momentum that hit fresh heights with a commanding seven-wicket triumph over New Zealand in the semi-final.
“We have lost the first two matches (but) the way we came back the last four matches, we’ve performed very well,” Babar said adding “we are playing good cricket in the last four matches and we’ll try to continue that momentum into the final.”
“We did not have a good start but we made a good comeback as all the players played like lions,” said the star player.
He said that all the players are excited for the final but added England has a great team.
He also said that the first six overs are extremely important. “We believe in Allah. Our job is to work hard and the result is in the hands of God,” he added.
According to Babar, the toss does not hold much importance in the final match.
The MCG can meanwhile hold up to 100,000 spectators and Sunday’s match is expected to almost fill the stadium – especially after Pakistan’s semi-final match drew an exhilarated crowd of over 90,000.
Babar said the team has been well supported throughout the tournament and that fans “give us confidence and (it’s) good to see when we go anywhere, any stadium, they come and support the Pakistan team.”
“We try 100 percent to give them a smile (and) to win the matches.”
While Babar is confident his team is on a path to glory on Sunday, he also knows they need to be wary of an on-form England who thumped India by 10 wickets in the second semi-final.
“England is a good team, they have a good bunch of players, and they have quality fast bowlers and batsmen,” Babar said.
On concerns about the weather, he said: “The weather is not in our hands but we hope that we get to play a full match and it doesn’t get affected by the rain,” he said.
Buttler says Pakistan ‘an excellent team’
England captain Jos Buttler meanwhile paid Pakistan’s fast bowling attack the ultimate compliment on the eve of the final by declaring some of their quicks will finish their careers among the best pace bowlers the country has ever produced.
Buttler will go head-to-head against Pakistan’s bevy of quality pacers and his battle at the top of England’s batting order will go a long way to deciding who claims the coveted trophy.
Pakistan are known for producing quality fast bowlers over a long period of time, with the likes of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and Imran Khan among the best quicks to have ever played.
“They are an excellent team and have a long history of producing quality fast bowlers, and the team we are up (on Sunday) against is no different,” Buttler said on Saturday.
Buttler said he used to dream about getting the chance to hold the World Cup trophy aloft when he was growing up in England.
The right-hander only took over from former skipper Eoin Morgan earlier this year and is hoping to become the second England men’s player to captain a T20 World Cup side to glory after Paul Collingwood achieved the feat in the West Indies in 2010.
Meanwhile, wet weather is forecast for Sunday’s final, but some forward thinking could save the tournament showpiece event as Sunday’s forecast looks dire. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has forecast between 8mm and 20mm of rain with the chance of a severe thunderstorm.
Given the impending wet weather, which has already seen multiple matches abandoned in Melbourne, ICC tournament organizers are so intent on a result that they set aside a reserve day, Monday, should the match not go ahead.