New Delhi: As Pakistan’s cricket team makes a long-awaited return to India after seven years, the spotlight falls on Babar Azam and his young squad. With warm-up matches underway, the team’s inexperience on Indian pitches, including the skipper Babar Azam, could prove to be both a hurdle and a thrilling adventure.
Pakistan’s return to India
After a hiatus of seven years, Pakistan’s cricket team is back on Indian soil, sparking immense excitement among cricket enthusiasts. Their recent warm-up match against New Zealand in Hyderabad marked the beginning of their journey in the World Cup 2023. Next on their agenda is a clash with Australia on October 3. What adds an intriguing dimension to this campaign is the fact that most of Pakistan’s emerging talents, including the captain, Babar Azam, have never played on Indian pitches.
The Indian challenge
This tour stands as a significant moment in cricket history as it will be the first time a majority of the visiting Pakistani team will experience playing on Indian grounds. Bilateral series between Pakistan and India in any format have been absent since the 2012–13 season. The last interaction was Pakistan’s tour of India for an ODI and T20 series. The T20 World Cup in 2016 saw the Pakistani team return to India, marking a momentous chapter in cricketing history.
The two exceptions
Among the Pakistani squad, only two players have had the privilege of playing cricket in India. Mohammad Nawaz and Salman Ali Aga, both part of the Pakistan squad, can claim this distinction. However, Nawaz’s stint during the T20 World Cup in 2016 didn’t yield any match appearances due to his age of 21 at the time. Shahid Afridi captained the team during that memorable tour.
Salman Ali Aga, despite not representing Pakistan in India, did participate in an Indian league match. He featured for the Lahore Lions in the Champions League T20, where he contributed one run in three balls. The remaining players in the squad are embarking on their first Indian cricketing adventure, and their performance will be closely monitored.
As Babar Azam leads his team into the World Cup on Indian pitches, cricket fans worldwide eagerly await the unfolding drama, as Pakistan’s young stars look to make their mark on the grand stage.