The biryani in Hyderabad has lived up to Babar Azam’s expectations but the Pakistan captain is worried the contest between bat and ball at the 50-overs World Cup may not be as spicy because of short boundaries in most Indian venues.
Babar’s men were accorded a warm welcome in Hyderabad in what is their first tour of India since the T20 World Cup in 2016.
Thanks to a soured political relationship, bilateral cricket remains suspended between India and Pakistan, and the bitter neighbours play each other only in multi-team events.
Babar and his teammates were surprised by the support they received since landing in Hyderabad, where they played both their warm-up matches.
They will launch their bid for a second 50-overs World Cup title in the same southern Indian city against the Netherlands on Friday.
“I think the hospitality has been quite nice — we were not expecting this,” Babar said during his pre-tournament media interaction along with nine other captains on Wednesday.
“It’s been a week in Hyderabad, and it is not like we are in India. It is like we are at home.”
A Pakistan support staff member took to social media to praise Hyderabad’s famous biryani and, after one of the warm-up matches, all-rounder Shadab Khan quipped gorging regularly on biryani had rendered them slower on the field.
“We had heard a lot about Hyderabadi biryani and we loved it,” Babar, currently the top-ranked ODI batter, said in his appreciation of the popular dish.
He was less impressed by the short boundaries at some Indian venues though, which, he feared, might reduce bowlers to cannon fodder over the next six weeks.
“The boundaries are small. There is no margin for the bowlers,” he said.
“If the bowling is a little bit off, the batsman utilises it. So, there will be high scores.”
Babar’s concerns are understandable considering Pakistan’s bowling lost considerable sting after speedster Naseem Shah was ruled out of the World Cup with a shoulder injury.
Babar still had high expectations from his bowling unit led by left-arm quick Shaheen Afridi.
“It’s more or less the same team playing the last three years together, and I think bowling remains our strength,” added Babar.