KARACHI: Misbahul Haq has set his sight on winning the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy as national cricketers shift their focus to the major event after the conclusion of the President’s Cup one-day tournament.
The Pakistan captain was speaking to reporters at the National Stadium yesterday after the conclusion of the event.
“Our target is to win the Champions Trophy,” said Misbah. “Like all the other teams who are eyeing to win the tournament, we are not aiming for anything less.”
Misbah said although all the players participated in the domestic tournament, the recent tour of South Africa will play a significant role in the team’s preparation for the event to start in England in June.
“We played the domestic tournament in our own conditions which might be helpful but not crucial. However, the experience of playing in tough conditions in South Africa will serve us better for the upcoming tournament.”
The captain hoped the players will get English-type conditions at the training camp in Abbottabad that starts early next week.
“Hopefully, we’ll get wickets similar to those in England in Abbottabad. It’s not possible to have such wickets in Karachi or Lahore weather. This camp will play an important part in our preparations for the Champions Trophy.”
‘I’ve stopped taking pressure’
Meanwhile, the right-handed batsman, who silenced critics by playing crucial knocks in South Africa, was optimistic about his performance in England.
“I have stopped taking pressure and that is helping me. Performance is the best answer to critics and I am focusing purely on performing whether it’s at the international or domestic level.”
Misbah added that the back-to-back title wins for SNGPL besides triumph for his regional team – Faislabad Wolves at Super Eight Twenty20 – was a confidence-booster for him as well as his teammates.
‘Younus not ruled out completely’
To a query on Younus Khan, who was dropped from the preliminary squad of the Champions Trophy, Misbah said the former captain has not been discarded.
“We all respect his services. Younus has vast experience and he may be considered in the future like any other player on the basis of performance.’
He also termed injury to Umar Gul as a loss but was positive about his replacement.
“Pacers like Asad Ali and Ehsan Adil have been impressive in the President’s Cup.”
International cricket-starved PCB claims success
Despite repeated failures to convince international teams to visit the country, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) held an in-house meeting yesterday where its senior officials sang chorus of success at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.
PCB Chairman Zaka Ashraf, chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed and director international cricket Intikhab Alam were among the senior officials who spoke during the meeting, claiming to have added Rs300 million in the board’s purse since October 2011 when Ashraf took over.
During the event, the chairman also announced one month’s salary as ex-gratia bonus – the first in four years – for the entire PCB staff.
Interestingly, a former board official said it was not the appropriate time to ‘celebrate’ success.
“Chairman’s first promise to revive international cricket still remains a distant dream despite spending time and money in plans like Pakistan Super League,” said the former board official.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2013.