Pakistan's newly appointed all-format captain, Babar Azam, insisted there are no factions within his team's dressing room, adding that he would like to be seen as an independent leader while also relishing the support of the senior players around him.
Babar's response was to a query in the pre-tour press conference in Lahore before taking on New Zealand in their own den for 3 T20Is and 2 Test matches. He rebuffed suggestions that there could be some uneasiness within the team regarding his captaincy credentials.
"This is a young team and there is no disharmony or groupings in our dressing room. The team is one. Every player respects and backs the other player and takes pride in their performances. No leg-pulling in our team," said Babar as he left for the Kiwi shores along with 34 other Pakistan players and 15 support staff personnel.
Babar also stressed he doesn't feel any extra pressure on his young shoulders just because he has now got more thinking to do for the team.
"I have always played with pressure. When I came into Pakistan team early on there was pressure on me to perform. We have to face challenges every day. Now there is a new challenge and responsibility and I will try to use my experience from white-ball cricket."
"I take advice from seniors and have learnt a lot from Saifi (Sarfaraz) and even Azhar (Ali). Whatever I have learnt and what they taught me, I am trying to apply those things and if need arises I will talk to them but in the end I will take independent decisions according to my mind-set."
"I try to enjoy myself as a batsman and I enjoy challenging situations. I know the team relies on me and I enjoy playing under pressure, especially abroad."
"We are going to New Zealand after having played a lot of cricket and we are excited as a team because we know our worth. We know that we have always performed well against New Zealand be it in New Zealand or anywhere else."
Pakistan have historically enjoyed some of their better overseas results in New Zealand, but while taking confidence from the past, Babar knows his team must stay in the present as the Black Caps are certainly better than they've ever been at the top level.
"My main aim is to back and support my players," he said. "Especially those who are not performing well because they need the backing most. As a captain, you have to show confidence in your players and back them only then they develop the confidence to do well."
"I struggled early when I came into Test cricket but only started performing because of the confidence and backing I got from Mickey Arthur and Safi."
"What we are aiming to do is create a good combination of young and senior players and try to be more consistent. As a team we just have to give it our best shot. The results will not always be in your favour and not all the players can perform all the time," Babar signed off.
(Inputs from PTI)