Babar Azam prays pandemic won't scupper World Cup

By: AFP      Published: 05:08 PM, 18 May, 2020
Babar Azam prays pandemic won't scupper World Cup

World number one Twenty20 batsman Babar Azam said Monday he was praying the coronavirus pandemic would not scupper his first T20 World Cup as Pakistan skipper.

Australia are due to host the seventh Twenty20 World Cup in October and November but organisers face challenges of providing appropriate bio-security and quarantine measures for 15 international teams.

Lingering travel restrictions could also hit the event, where forty-five matches are scheduled to be played in seven cities. "It will be my first World Cup as skipper so I am praying for it and keeping fingers crossed," Azam said in a virtual press conference.

The International Cricket Council will discuss the event at its board meeting in Dubai next week. Azam said he would not mind if cricket was played in closed stadiums, without fans.

"It would be tough to play without fans because they cheer along and back you up, but who knows better than Pakistan how to play without crowds," said Azam.

Pakistan were forced to play before sparse or no crowds in the UAE, their neutral ground, in the aftermath of the 2009 terrorist attack against a visiting Sri Lanka team in Lahore. International cricket returned gradually to Pakistan from 2015 but it was only last year that the side managed to stage a Test at home after a gap of ten years.

The one-day international captain also vowed to improve Pakistan's rankings. "We are now fourth in Twenty20, sixth in ODIs and seventh in Tests which is not acceptable and I want to see improvements in that," Azam said.

Pakistan topped the Twenty20 rankings from January 2018 to until last week. Pakistan T20 captain Babar Azam said he was keeping his 'fingers crossed' that this year's Twenty20 World Cup would go ahead in Australia.