With the ICC Champions Trophy around the corner, the Pakistan team has picked up pace in training, taking part in a gruelling four-hour session under the supervision of legendary former cricketers as well as the national coaching panel at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium (ACS).
While former captain and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Director General Javed Mianadad was already present, Wasim Akram arrived on the second day of the camp that saw extensive bowling and batting drills besides fielding practice.
Fast-bowler Junaid Khan, who missed the opening day, also joined his teammates to complete the 15-man squad that will travel to the UK for One-Day Internationals against Ireland and Scotland before taking part in the Champions Trophy.
Misbah takes guidelines from Miandad
Miandad, who is advising the batsmen on directives of PCB Chairman Zaka Ashraf, remained active throughout the training session.
He spent nearly an hour with captain Misbahul Haq in a separate batting session, while Nasir Jamshed and Umar Amin were also guided by the former captain.
Interestingly, even tail-end batsmen, including Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan and Junaid, were also seen testing their batting skills.
“It’s really important that even a tail-ender contributes to the team’s total nowadays,” a team official told The Express Tribune.
Meanwhile, Wasim, who is expected to supervise till Sunday, also held lengthy sessions with the fast-bowlers.
In the presence of the two former greats, the team’s coaching panel, headed by Dav Whatmore and bowling coach Mohammad Akram, seem to have taken a backseat as Miandad and Wasim took charge of the second day’s session.
However, fielding coach Julien Fountain kept busy conducting fielding drills and having a separate session with wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal.
Security for Pakistan team
Meanwhile, security arrangements have been made in and around the ACS for the Pakistan team to avoid any untoward incident with dozens of policemen seen deployed for the purpose.
Locals, who are turning out in large numbers to see their national heroes, have not been granted permission to come inside the stadium premises.
Pakistan’s chances bright, says Wasim
Rating Pakistan among the favourites for the Champions Trophy, Wasim said the batsmen needed to click for the team to win the mega event.
“I always rate Pakistan among the favourites in such tournaments,” said the former captain. “Pakistan have the ability to beat any opponent in the world. I would say the Pakistan team is like Brazil in football — having an abundance of raw talent.”
The former fast-bowler added that the England pitches would suit the Pakistan team. “The pitches our team is going to get in England will mostly be flat tracks that suit our style. The players are also practising hard and on paper the team is fine. It’s a balanced squad.”
Pakistan play two matches apiece, against Scotland and Ireland, before the Champions Trophy begins on June 6.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2013.