World Cup 2023

Babar ready to play 'anyone, anywhere' in India


Publish Date: 20:23 Thursday, July 6, 2023

|| AFP ||

Pakistan are ready to take on any side at any venue in India during this year's World Cup, skipper Babar Azam said Thursday as the team awaited government approval to participate in the tournament.

Pakistan are drawn to play India at Ahmedabad's 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium on October 15 -- the first time they will meet on either's home turf since 2012.

The neighbours are bitter political adversaries and usually only meet in international tournaments at neutral venues, most recently during the T20 World Cup in Australia last year.

The Pakistan Cricket Board wrote to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the interior and foreign ministries this week asking for formal permission to take part in the tournament.

Azam said he didn't mind who they played, or where.

"I am thinking that we are going to play the World Cup -- not just against India," he told a news conference Thursday.

"We are not focusing on one team. There are nine other teams, so only if we beat them will we reach the final." 

The new Ahmedabad Stadium will likely prove to be a boiling cauldron for a Pakistan-India clash, one of the highlights of the tournament that starts October 5.

The International Cricket Council rejected Pakistan's objections to the venue while announcing the World Cup schedule last month.

"As professionals we have to be ready," Azam said.

"Wherever there is cricket, wherever there are matches, we will go and play. We want to perform in every country."

Apart from Ahmedabad, Pakistan are also scheduled to play matches in Hyderabad Deccan, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata.

The World Cup runs until November 19.

Before then, Pakistan tour Sri Lanka this month for a two-Test series.

"We are excited to start after a break and are getting ready for the World Cup," Azam said.

The first Test starts in Galle on July 16 and the second in Colombo from July 24.

Pakistan will also feature in the six-nation Asia Cup from August 31 to September 17.

The first four matches will be held in Pakistan, while Sri Lanka will host the remaining nine, including the final.