Stern test awaits ninth-ranked Pakistan

Need to win all seven matches in tour to automatically qualify for 2019 World Cup

Afp/our Correspondent August 18, 2016
Pakistan train ahead of their two-match ODI series against Ireland which will be followed by five one-dayers against England. PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

KARACHI: While the Test team is enjoying a good run, it is Pakistan’s one-day side which has a lot of work to do ahead of their ODI series against Ireland and England, with the first ODI against the former starting today.

The Men in Green are facing an uphill task of needing to win all seven matches against Ireland and England to be in a position to automatically qualify for the 2019 World Cup, as they are currently ranked ninth in the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI rankings, seven points behind eighth-placed West Indies on 87.

With the four bottom-placed teams in the 12-team rankings needing to play in the ICC World Cup Qualifier in 2018 alongside six teams from the ICC World Cricket League Championship and the ICC World Cricket League, Pakistan will be looking to move above West Indies and secure automatic qualification for the tournament rather than having to go through the qualifiers.

Arthur worried about Pakistan’s one-day form

As many as seven players have joined up for the limited-overs leg which include senior players Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, Sharjeel Khan, Imad Wasim, Babar Azam and rookies Mohammad Nawaz and Hasan Ali, while eight players, who were part of the Test side, are skipper Azhar, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmad, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Sami Aslam and Mohammad Rizwan.

Azhar, in a press conference, stated that Pakistan need to transfer the consistency of the Test team into their one-day side. “I feel that the Test side produces consistent performances and we need to replicate them in ODIs, but for that we need to be consistent with selections as well,” Azhar said in the press conference.

The skipper further added that Ireland will be tough opponents in their own conditions and that the two ODIs against the Irish would provide a good platform going into the five-match ODI series against England. “Ireland will be tough opponents in their own conditions but we’ve got some good new players and I’m confident that the team will perform well,” he stated.

We are better than our ranking suggests: Azhar Ali

Azhar, meanwhile, advised the squad to stick together and draw inspiration of taking challenged head on from the Test side.

“The performance of the Test team is an encouragement for the ODI team so we will carry that same momentum and passion. It was a big challenge for the Test team because a lot of people used to say that we are only good in our own conditions. Now we need to just believe in the new players that have come into the ODI side and support them as much as we can.”

Pakistan last played Ireland in a group match at the 2015 World Cup and managed to win by seven wickets, courtesy Sarfraz’s century.  

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2016.

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