ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s newly appointed Test captain Shan Masood expressed optimism on Wednesday about the team’s prospects for the upcoming series in Australia, emphasizing that the squad was well-settled and that the team management was not considering many changes.
Masood shared these thoughts at a news conference in Lahore, just a day before the Pakistani players are scheduled to depart for Australia to play three Test matches from December 14 to January 7.
Asked about the team’s selection process, he highlighted the consistency in the Test squad’s recent performances.
“Abdullah [Shafique] and Imam [Ul Haq] have done really well for Pakistan in the opening slot for some time now,” he said. “I have been batting at number three, both in domestic and national level, since Azhar Ali retired, so I have settled well. Saim Ayub has done well in domestic cricket and his batting reflects the ideal way of playing, so he has been rewarded for his performances.”
Describing Babar Azam as Pakistan’s “best batter,” Masood stressed that teams were built around such players and assured that Azam’s position in the batting order would remain unchanged.
“We will not be making many changes to the settled team but we will be going with the intent to win so that will reflect in how the team plays,” he noted. “When the team is settled, you only make changes if conditions or injuries demand it.”
Masood, who replaced Azam as captain following Pakistan’s fifth-place finish in the Cricket World Cup in India, mentioned his strong relationship with Azam, both on and off the field, fostered by years of playing together.
However, he acknowledged challenges in Pakistan’s bowling lineup.
“Our bowling is not as well settled as we would have liked, especially with Naseem Shah missing,” he admitted. “Our success in Sri Lanka came due to Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah bowling together as the two of them brought us wickets up top and in the middle too.”
“Haris Rauf could have helped with his pace but he is not available either,” he added. “Our fast-bowling combination will only become clear once we arrive in Australia.”