After departing from the scorching weather, the challenging crowds, and their defeat against host India in Ahmedabad, the Pakistan squad conducted their inaugural training session in the much cooler and more tranquil southern city on Tuesday.
The training session was optional, and six out of the 18 squad members, including the traveling reserves, opted not to attend at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Among the prominent names choosing to get some extra rest before their fourth World Cup match against Australia on Friday were Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Rizwan.
The Pakistan team had a few players recovering from illness after the India match, according to the Pakistan media manager. Nevertheless, this wasn’t the sole reason for some players missing the training session.
It appears that the Pakistan squad is gradually moving past the disappointment of the India defeat and their experiences in Ahmedabad, reminiscing about the warm welcome they received in Hyderabad, their initial destination for the 50-over tournament.
Maintaining this positivity is crucial, particularly with a potential spot in the semi-finals on the horizon, having won two of their three games.
“We are enjoying the matches and the welcome and support that we have got has been great,” remarked Pakistan spinner Mohammad Nawaz. “Going forward from here, we have only one aim, which is to qualify for the semi-finals, and we’ll try to win the [remaining] games to do that.”
Australia, who staged a comeback to win their first match of the tournament against Sri Lanka on Monday, will be Pakistan’s next challenge. Unlike the Netherlands and Sri Lanka, they pose a formidable opponent for Babar Azam’s team.
To perform well against Pat Cummins and company, Pakistan must enhance their performance with the ball during the middle overs, where their spinners have struggled to take wickets, which has been the case so far in the World Cup.
Nawaz is confident that wickets will come in the middle overs sooner or later, citing his past performances as evidence. He acknowledged the expectations on spinners but stressed the team’s focus on improving their wicket-taking abilities in that crucial phase of the game.
Nawaz and his spin partner Shadab Khan’s recent struggles against more experienced teams have led to discussions about potentially introducing up-and-coming leg-spinner Usama Mir, who has shown promise in the limited opportunities he has had.
Nawaz indicated that Usama should play if that’s the decision of the team management, emphasizing the importance of performing for the team whenever given the opportunity.
Reflecting on the memorable experience of playing against India in front of a massive home crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Nawaz mentioned that he would have preferred to have some Pakistan supporters in the audience, similar to the T20 World Cup clash between the archrivals in Melbourne last year.
In Bangalore, where the climate is cool and the atmosphere serene, fans are expected to support the Pakistan team, whom they last saw in action here in 2007. The city’s fans would like their guests from across the border to leave with positive memories, unlike the experience in Ahmedabad.