Pakistan are having a great time in the ongoing T20 World Cup in United Arab Emirates. The Babar Azam-led side remained unbeaten in the Super 12 stage to qualify for the semi-final, where they will take on Australia in Dubai on Thursday (November 11).
On the eve of the semi-final, Pakistan’s batting consultant Matthew Hayden said the 10-wicket thrashing of arch-rivals India set the tone for his side in the showpiece tournament and cited the players’ commitment to training and spirituality as the reasons for a fabulous run so far.
“The highlight…the first game that we played here at Dubai, where we’re playing tomorrow night, against India, and just how under immense pressure…only comparable to the Ashes series, just how these boys wonderfully handled very calmly and very confidently their approach to playing such a huge match,” Hayden told reporters in the pre-match press conference.
“I think that game really set us up for what has been a really lovely four weeks of solid work, great commitment to training, great purpose in general…,” he added.
“…also a wonderful heart connect to Islam and how spirituality has played its role within the Pakistan team as a great guide and tool for everyone to come together,” he continued.
In the semi-final, Hayden will be up against his former opening partner Justin Langer, who is the head coach of the Australian team.
The Pakistan batting consultant believes his knowledge about Australian players and cricketing culture will help Babar Azam and company.
“It is a very unusual feeling. As you all know, I was a warrior for Australian cricket over two decades, so that does give me the benefit of having wonderful insights not only into these players but also into the culture of cricket in Australia,” he said.
“I guess from my point of view there is the challenge of the heart, the challenge of the mind in terms of what’s going to happen over the next 24 hours, but I’ll also say very proudly that it’s been wonderful to be a part of Pakistan cricket,” he added.
According to Hayden, the T20 World Cup title holds great significance for Pakistan, which has been deprived of hosting international cricket due to security concerns.
“Yes, this is an extremely important tournament for Pakistan…I feel that as a nation that loves cricket as much as it does, and as focused so heavily on cricket, and also to have tournaments including the ones that I was a part of (being) cancelled for numerous reasons, it’s never more important,” he said.
“…and the awareness is heightened that out of this great nation we’ve got a squad of players here that are ready to perform and are ready to take on not only the semifinals but should we, inshallah, get beyond that, the finals.”
Matthew Hayden also showered rich praise on Babar, saying: “Babar and his personality is what you see is what you get. He’s very consistent. He’s very stable. He’s not overly flamboyant.
“In fact I’d go as far as to say he’s almost the opposite personality to someone like Virat Kohli, who’s very animated, very passionate, and very boisterous on the field. Got great control, and he’s got a wonderful temperament,” he said.
“…just to give you an insight into that talent, his ability to be able to consistently react to the ball is really second to none that I’ve seen. He picks up the line and the length of the ball quicker than the average cricketer that’s going around, and that’s the mark of someone that’s a very fine player.”