Lahore July 07 2023 : Pakistan captain Babar Azam believes his side's eagerly awaited contest against India at this year's ICC Men's Cricket World Cup is of equal importance with each one of their nine matches.
While all eyes will be on Ahmedabad on October 15 when India hosts Pakistan at this year's 50-over showcase, Babar knows his team must perform well throughout the entire tournament if they are to earn a second World Cup trophy to the one they claimed in Australia in 1992.
Pakistan now know the nine opponents they will face in India later this year, with Sri Lanka and the Netherlands progressing from the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier tournament in Zimbabwe to join seven other teams that Babar's charges will face.
Babar knows the importance of Pakistan's match against India, but says his team must produce consistent performances during the six-week tournament if they are to prevail.
"We are going to play World Cup and not just going to play against India only," Babar said.
"There are eight other teams and it's not only India and only if we beat them then we will make it into the final. We are not focused on only one team, we are focused on all other teams in the tournament. Our plan is that we have to play well against all of them and win against them."
Pakistan are scheduled to play in five different cities during the World Cup and Babar says his team must be ready to adapt to any change in conditions that may occur.
"You prepare yourself for different conditions and in every environment and that is what we call a challenge and you take it to live up to it,” he said.
“Me, as a player and captain, I aspire to score runs in every country, dominate and win Pakistan games. So this is all we have in mind and not only that we're going to play against one team."
And while the World Cup is the big prize for Pakistan at the end of the year, Babar's team have a more immediate goal in making a strong start to the new ICC World Test Championship campaign when they take on Sri Lanka in a two-Test series later this month.
Pakistan fell short when attempting to qualify for the 2023 World Test Championship Final and Babar is expecting his players to show much improvement and continue to play more attacking cricket when the next cycle commences for them at Galle on July 16.
"When you reflect back on the Championship, you look out for all the positives and mainly what we were lacking in," Babar said.
"We did look back and plucked a few points. We'll try to start this cycle in a positive way and up our game by 5-10 percent. We talked about taking our partnerships longer and with the ball, we have to take wickets. With the bat, if we were going with 3.5 (run rate), so now we have to change our game to try and go with four."