Mani lauds Pakistan’s winning show

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LAHORE: Pakistan Cri­cket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani on Monday congratulated the national team on their sixth consecutive series win as Babar Azam became the first Pakistan captain to win his first four Tests.

“On behalf of the Pakistan cricket fans, I want to congratulate our men’s team on completing the successful tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe,” Mani said in a PCB press release issued on Monday.

Pakistan defeated South Africa in the Test (2-0) and T20 International (2-1) series at home earlier this year and then won the T20 (3-1) and ODI (2-1) series in the return series before wrapping up the African safari with T20 (2-1) and Test (2-0) series wins in Zimbabwe.

Babar followed his two home Test wins against South Africa with victories by innings wins in Harare. The number-one ranked ODI batsman will now have a chance to get back to his run-scoring form in red-ball cricket when he leads Pakistan against the West Indies (two Tests) and Bangladesh (two Tests) in August and September, respectively.

The tour to Africa also brought the curtains down on the side’s 2020-21 international commitments during which they played nine Tests, six ODIs and 19 T20Is in the 10-month period under unprecedented Covid-19 restrictions and protocols.

During this period, Pakistan has climbed to fifth in the ICC Test Team Rankings, their highest since 2017; presently occupies second place behind England on the ICC Men’s World Cup Super League; and has retained fourth position in the T20Is.

Mani also thanked the players and support staff for enduring the tough and demanding Covid-19 protocols to fulfill their Future Tours Programme (FTP) commitments that ensured the fans remained connected with the sport.

“The young and talented side through their performances under a blossoming and skillful captain and a committed and knowledgeable backroom staff have shown they are heading in the right direction. Nonetheless, a lot of work still needs to be done if they have to achieve their objective of featuring in the top-three across all formats by 2023,” the PCB chief added.

“Winning six straight series during the Covid-19 pandemic only for the sixth time in our proud cricket history is a huge achievement and reflects how challenging and difficult it has been to perform consistently at the highest level. But, if we aspire to become world-beaters and want to match our great sides of the past, then we have to continuously raise the quality of our cricket so that we can excel and succeed against all oppositions and, more importantly, against the leading sides on their turfs,” Mani said.

“I want to especially thank each and every member of the squad for standing up to the rigours and demands of the unprecedented Covid-19 restrictions. It has not been easy for the players to remain in confinements away from their families and friends for extended periods and yet expected to perform each time they have stepped on to the field.

“We have recently seen the impact of bio-secure environments on some international cricketers, but our players have shown tremendous resilience, mental toughness and focus during the past 10 months in which they clearly developed team unity and harmony that also helped them in their on-field performances,” the press release quoted the PCB chairman as saying.

Pakistan’s next international assignment is three Super League ODIs and three T20s against England from July 8-20 followed by the tour to the West Indies.