Players slowly getting used to new rules, says Babar Azam

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Pakistan’s T20I skipper has said players are slowly getting used to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) put in place for the side during their tour of England.

“There are some changes that we have to deal with,” said the star batsman during a virtual video conference from England. “The players have to stay at a distance from each other even during training and we go to the gym in groups of six. We have to follow the rules set here and can’t go outside either.”

The biggest change though is getting used to the banning of the application of saliva on the duke ball. “The ball can’t be shined [with saliva] and only sweat can be used,” he said. “So when you come from normal conditions to these new rules then you need some time to adjust. We have been here for 2-3 days now and are trying to adjust.”

The old ball may not retain its shine but Babar is rightly wary of the firepower that England’s pacers have. “They have the advantage [over our bowlers] since they are the hosts and they know these conditions really well, with the likes of Stuart Broad and James Anderson,” said Babar, but believes that Pakistan have bowlers who will trouble the England batsmen too. “We have a really good combination of youth in Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah alongside the experience of Muhammad Abbas, who has experience of playing in these conditions since he has played county cricket.”

England are set to play three Tests against the West Indies before the games against Pakistan, but Babar believes that those matches may not necessarily give the hosts the advantage.

“The advantage that we have is that we will be watching them to see how they take care of the ball, what kind of cricket they play and how do they follow the new rules set in place due to covid-19,” he said. “We also have a few practice matches lined up, which of course are necessary since they will help us get into match fitness so that we are good to go when the Tests come around.”