Pakistan batsman Babar Azam has high hopes from the Asia Cup 2018. The 23-year-old, who stands second in the ICC ODI batsmen rankings, wants to make most of the Virat Kohli's absence.
Kohli, who is rested from the tournament, is on number one with 911 ratings, while Babar has 825 ratings.
Pakistan will play their first game against Hong Kong on Sunday. Azam doesn't want to take any team lightly. “No team is easy so we will not take the match against Hong Kong as an easy one. Remember the best teams play in Asia Cup. Though India match will be interesting, I feel all the five teams are good."
“Our top order did well in Zimbabwe but middle order too got their chances. Asif Ali did well in the middle order and so did Shoaib Malik. So individually, all of us are in good form," he added.
Babar also commented on the non-attendance of Virat in the tournament. “Our focus will be on match to match. After that, we can only plan for the later matches,” said Azam.
“They have Rohit Sharma and Mahendra Singh Dhoni — who are all experienced players," he added.
Babar lauded the Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur for filling the dressing room with positivity. “With Arthur as the coach, the dressing room atmosphere has changed. All youngsters in the team are given confidence and self-belief. The presence of senior players like Shoaib Malek and Sarfraz Ahmad has helped a lot as all youngsters talk to them and they are so helpful.”
When asked about his approach towards batting, Azam said: “My batting is based on the confidence to play full 50 overs. I will always try to build the innings.”
If India and Pakistan reach final, they will have to play each other thrice in this tournament. “It is nice if India and Pakistan may play thrice especially in the light of no series between each other. This is a nice opportunity to play each other and that too through a good tournament. It is also important because a lot of people will come out to watch the match and many will follow the match. So it is a good chance for the fans to enjoy," he said.
Hong Kong too had a good training session at the ICC Academy. Their skipper Anshuman Rath considers their participation in the Asia Cup as an honor. “It is an honor and a privilege to play against some of the legends of the game. We are just going to take it game by game. We are hungry, and we have worked very hard to get here,” he said.