Pakistan will go into the Asia Cup with two consecutive One Day International (ODI) series wins under their belt, which gives them a huge psychological advantage, feels Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing training camp, the senior all-rounder believes the men in green need to maintain the momentum in the five-nation tournament starting from February 25 in Bangladesh.
Pakistan became the first Asian team to beat South Africa at their home in an ODI series when Misbah’s men registered a 2-1 win last year, before overcoming Sri Lanka 3-2 in the home series in the UAE, which was their last 50-over assignment.
“We are going with a lot of confidence,” Hafeez told reporters in Lahore on Wednesday.
“The team has played outstanding cricket recently. We hope to continue the momentum and earn good results by continuing the same form.”
The seasoned performer refused to term Pakistan favourites for the tournament that also features India, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan besides the hosts.
“There are no favourites; all the teams are going to be tough. Even Afghanistan have the ability to pose a serious challenge.”
He added that although the training camp is being staged for a short period, the coaches are utilising the time well which will help players gel for the event.
‘No security fears in Bangladesh’
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed the trip to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup after thorough deliberation due to anti-Pakistan sentiments and deadly violence post the general elections in the host country.
PCB had earlier demanded a change in the venue before their security official gave a green signal after assessing the situation there.
“We have played in Bangladesh before and received good hospitality and respect from fans there.
There are no security concerns as far as the team is concerned.”
Hafeez happy with World T20 combination
Meanwhile, the all-rounder who will lead the team in World T20 following the Asia Cup was satisfied with the combination selected for the coveted event.
“The selectors have picked the best squad that is a blend of youth and experience,” he said.
“We have impact players in both batting and bowling departments. [Injured] Mohammad Irfan will be missed but we still have quality options for pace and spin.”
He also backed the inclusion of Kamran Akmal saying that the wicket-keeper was preferred for the mega tournament since he has a vast experience and has show good form.
Mehmood, Sarfraz share thoughts on ‘Big Three’
On the other hand, PCB chairman Najam Sethi met former board head Khalid Mehmood and ex-Test cricketer Sarfraz Nawaz to take their views on International Cricket Council’s reforms.
Mehmood, following the meeting, said PCB must not leave the stance taken on high moral grounds.
“I think we don’t have any other option left if anybody is thinking about another approach. We don’t have the room to think about any other option.”
Sarfraz was of the opinion that the matter of ‘Big Three’ was not handled properly by former chairman Zaka Ashraf and hoped for a positive solution in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2014.
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