With the Asia Cup eluding them for more than a decade, Pakistan are confident of improving their record in the tournament that starts on March 11.
Pakistan are set to leave today for Dhaka ahead of the tournament’s opener that pits them against hosts Bangladesh.
Motivating them is the title-drought since 2000 when they won their first Asia Cup and upbeat after defeating Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in recent series, Pakistan officials sounded a confident tone on their chances in the four-nation tournament.
“We’re optimistic that we’ll do well,” Pakistan manager Naveed Akram Cheema told The Express Tribune. “We showed good performances against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh recently and there’s no reason why we can’t repeat that.
“Although we lost against India in the World Cup semi-final last year but they are demoralised with their performance in Australia which has given us the psychological advantage.
“Our recent Bangladesh tour will also be a positive factor for us.”
While Pakistan have bagged just the lone title, defeating Sri Lanka by 39 runs in June 2000, defending champions India have been victorious five times with Sri Lanka lifting the cup on four occasions. Bangladesh, who have featured in the event nine times, are yet to bag the trophy.
Meanwhile, Cheema warned that his team will have to be on its toes in every match of the tournament.
The manager also hoped for an improved show under the new coach.
“Whatmore is an experienced campaigner and a fair gentleman and I hope his expertise will help the team.
“I have faith that Pakistan can bounce back strongly after losing the limited-overs series against England.”
‘Team in rhythm’
Pakistan did not organise a formal training camp but the manager felt his players were ready for the tournament.
“The team has played a lot of matches in the last few months. The players needed rest but they continued their physical training. They also attended the bowling camp and are completely fit.
“We will have a few days before our opening match and that will help the players get in perfect shape.”
Extra cautious after BPL claims
The manager added that the players were given routine anti-corruption lectures before the tournament, also advising the players to be extra cautious in Bangladesh after a fixing controversy marred the recently-concluded Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
“The players have to be very careful and they have been made aware of it.”
A Pakistani citizen was arrested by the Bangladesh Police during the Twenty20 league on suspicions of match-fixing after which opening batsman Nasir Jamshed and all-rounder Rana Navedul Hasan were questioned before being cleared.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2012.