KARACHI: Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman believes that the Men in Green should be considered as the favourites to win the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.
Zaman — who has featured in 18 ODIs and 22 T20Is for Pakistan — feels that current Pakistan team combination and recent results puts them in a great position to lift the elusive trophy.
“We will travel to England to win the title and not just to make up the numbers. I do feel that it is right for us to be labelled favourites for the 2019 World Cup as our team will be well equipped for this tournament,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports. “The current Pakistan team combination is brilliant and the results we have recently produced are good proof of that.”
Speaking about the team’s biggest threats at the World Cup, Zaman said that each match will present a different challenge although he considered India, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand to pose a stiff test as compared to other sides.
“There isn't one team that one can mark as a bigger threat to Pakistan in a top-level tournament such as the World Cup. Any of India, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand are more than capable of winning on any given day,” he said. “I feel that each match we play in the World Cup will present a different challenge and whichever team plays well on that day will emerge as the victor.”
The 2019 World Cup will be limited to just ten teams and sharing his thoughts on whether this will make it tougher or easier for the participants, Zaman said that playing against all teams should provide good entertainment to the spectators.
“While there may be fewer teams in the next edition of the World Cup, we should also note that all teams will play each other once in the first round, a total of nine games per team,” he said. “This will be a great opportunity for each team to prove its worth and should be great for the viewers.”
Apart from his 2019 World Cup ambitions, Zaman also showed keen desire to play county cricket in England as he considers it beneficial for the overall development of his game.
“I am very interested in playing for a county team in England next year after the end of the 2019 World Cup,” he said. “My representative is already in touch with a few counties and hopefully I will be able to get a chance to play in England next year.”
He added: “To me, playing in county cricket is essential for any player who wishes to develop his game and improve the quality of his cricket.”
After having become the first Pakistan batsman to score a double hundred in an ODI match for Pakistan — during the recently concluded tour of Zimbabwe — Zaman has now set his eyes on scoring a T20I hundred soon.
“I have already scored a hundred in a domestic T20 and now I am aiming to score a hundred in an international game as well,” he said. “Hopefully, I will achieve this target very soon.”
Zaman also backed PCB’s decision to limit the number of T20 leagues for contracted players as it will allow players to remain fit for the 2019 World Cup.
“I feel that with the current focus being on the 2019 World Cup, PCB's decision to limit player participation in two T20 leagues makes a lot of sense. This will allow our players to remain fit for the World Cup and not take unnecessary burdens on their bodies in the run-up to the tournament,” he said.
He also praised the board for taking steps to ensure that this decision did not impact the players financially: “The PCB, to their credit, is taking measures to sufficiently compensate players so in that way, not playing too many leagues will not hurt the players financially.”
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