Pakistan’s limited-overs captain Babar Azam, while talking in a virtual press conference on Thursday, heaped praises on the rising youngsters of the Men in Green, Haider Ali and Abdullah Shafique.

The prolific batsman believed that the duo were very different in their approach while claiming that the side had included some outstanding youngsters. Although, it must be noted that both, Shafique and Ali, are not part of the Pakistan squad for the first ODI against Zimbabwe.

“Their [Haider and Shafique] future looks really bright. I like them very much. They both possess different techniques. Haider plays aggressively and tries to play at an impressive strike rate. Shafique takes his time but plays his natural game once he is in. He tries to dominate. Both are different but the youngsters that we have are outstanding,” said Azam.

The 26-year-old stated that he would use his experience leading the Twenty20 International (T20I) side while serving as the captain for the One-day International (ODI) side.

“In T20Is, you always try to play aggressively. You need to make quick decisions. On the flip side, players get some time in ODIs. This will be my first series and I will try to apply my experience leading in T20Is to ODIs. My philosophy is simple, if you back and support your players completely then they will give you 110 percent. We will work hard for good results,” he said.

The right-hander was also looking forward to the series against Zimbabwe, which begins with the first ODI on Friday in Rawalpindi.

Pakistan take on Zimbabwe in first ODI today

“We had a domestic tournament before the Zimbabwe series. We are very confident and will try to get a great start which could benefit us in the next series as well. We will aim for a good start and a great finish. We are currently focused on the ODIs which will be played first,” he said.

“We will think about the T20Is when we play them. Because we will be playing back-to-back series, our performances here will be very important. You cannot take any team lightly in international cricket. They have experienced players with them. We will try to give our 110 per cent in the field,” he added.

What can I say?’ – Azhar Ali reacts

Pakistan Test skipper Azhar Ali reacted for the first time over the speculations of Babar Azam replacing him as the captain of the side in the longest format. Ali-led Pakistan finished their last Test series against England winless as the three-match rubber ended in a 1-0 defeat for the tourists, who lost the first Test before drawing the second and third game.

While addressing a virtual press conference in Karachi, Azhar was asked for his reaction to the speculations of Babar replacing him. The Pakistan Test skipper rubbished the rumours and said the PCB has not had any word with him regarding the issue. The speculations started after PCB CEO Wasim Khan had recently admitted Azhar might not lead Pakistan on their tour of New Zealand.

However, Azhar said PCB has not yet spoken on the issue with him and termed the speculations mere rumours. “The PCB has not spoken to me about this and I also know about these rumors through the media so I am not in a position to say anything on this,” said the Pakistan Test skipper in the press conference.

PCB is reportedly not satisfied with Azhar’s own performances with the bat since taking over the captaincy from Sarfaraz last year. He received immense criticism for his consistent failures during the Test series against England before redeeming himself with an unbeaten 141 in the final Test to help his side earn a draw.

However, Pakistan’s below-par show and the inability to churn out results in the three-match Test series raised serious doubts over Azhar’s credentials as a leader as he faced heavy flak from experts and former cricketers back home. Despite speculations, Azhar said he has been focusing on his cricket and is not in a position to comment on his future as Pakistan’s Test captain.

“What can I say when no one has spoken to me on this subject for now I just think these are only rumours and nothing else,” said Azhar.

“It makes no sense to think about these things because I am focussing on the first class matches and international cricket. Look when anyone talks to be about this officially then I will be in a position to say something,” he added.