Azhar Ali aims low as Pakistan risk missing out on 2019 World Cup

Published: January 12, 2017
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Azhar Ali aims to go into Australia series with World Cup in mind. PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

Azhar Ali aims to go into Australia series with World Cup in mind. PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

BRISBANE: Pakistan ODI captain Azhar Ali said on Thursday that the visitors need to perform in the upcoming five-match series against Australia keeping in mind the 2019 World Cup.

Pakistan currently languish eighth in the International Cricket Council’s ODI rankings with 89 points, just two points ahead of West Indies. The top eight ranked teams qualify automatically for the World Cup and the cut-off date for that is September this year. The remaining teams would have to play qualifying matches in 2018.

Speaking during a press conference at the Gabba, Azhar said that his side’s aim is to stay in the top eight prior to the cut-off date. “We’re not far from the cut-off date, so we want to stay in the top eight,” he said ahead of the series opener in Brisbane tomorrow.

“Obviously this is a big challenge and we all know that, but it’s an opportunity for us to express ourselves and a good result would be great for our ranking,” he added.

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The ODI captain added that if they perform well against Australia then it would also give the tourists a boost in confidence. “When you play in Australia and you do well, it will be wonderful for the confidence of our team,” he said.

Pakistan were whitewashed by Australia 3-0 in the recently concluded Test series. However, Azhar said his side will be looking to begin the ODI series with a fresh outlook.

“Obviously we have to start fresh [after the Test series] and some fresh faces have come into the team,” he said.

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“It’s been a long, long tour. We’ve played a lot of cricket since England so it’s always good to have fresh energy in the team and we’re looking forward to a fresh series.

“As a team we have improved and in our last four or five games, our performances have been really good. We want to keep building on that and improve our performances,” he added.

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‘Sarfraz will be missed’

Azhar confirmed that his team will be without their vice-captain and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed for the opening game and possibly this month’s entire five-match series.

“We’ll definitely miss Sarfraz tomorrow. Hopefully, he can rejoin the team but, as for right now, he’s not here,” he said.

Sarfraz had returned to Pakistan to be with his mother, who is in intensive care in hospital.

Mohammad Rizwan will take the gloves for the first day-night match and could remain in the side if Sarfraz does not return to Australia.

Azhar Ali was quoted by cricket.com.au

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Zee
    Jan 12, 2017 - 1:35PM

    >>“As a team we have improved and in our last four or five games, our performances have been really good”
    I don’t know which parallel universe this guys is living in where he sees that team has improved. We lost test series in NZ and got thoroughly whitewashed in test series Aus. Test ranking has slid down to 6th, most likely another ODI whitewash is awaiting us that will force us to play qualifying rounds for the WC and yet this loony guy claims the team has improved???
    Recommend

  • israr
    Jan 12, 2017 - 2:53PM

    its true that Pakistan has won last 4 odis one aginst eng and three against no 9 ranked wi, Pakistan’s only chance is to surprise aus with one or two players taking bull by its horns and with lots of luck may be sharjeel hitting 50 ball 80 babar with 50 off 50 then we can expect hafeez to pick warner and khawaja early in the piece, late order hitting taking us over 280 and we pick up quick wkts that’s it, to chase aus over 250 will tuff v tuff.
    with hafeez in the side I think Nawaz might be dropped for the first game and 4 pacers in junaid , aamir, wahab and hasan might play along with imad , malik and hafeez as spinners 7 bowlers in a 50 over game is a lot however what Nawaz can offer is something no other Pakistan spinner can, wicket of smith.
    sharjeel and azhar might open, babar at 3 malik at 4 hafeez 5 no 6 might be u akmal 7 imad then your 4 pacers or azhar might play Nawaz instead of janaid khan.
    yes chances are bleak but if u cannot beat aus in aus in an odi then u might struggle all year long and have to qualify for wc.Recommend

  • Mohammed
    Jan 12, 2017 - 4:09PM

    It does not make any sense not to get Kamran Akmal or Salman Butt to Australia with Safraz gone back.
    But then common sense has never been common with smarter people. Recommend

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