Pakistan wrapped their four-day training camp on Friday with captain Misbahul Haq declaring that his team is ready for the five-nation Asia Cup which starts from February 25 in Bangladesh.
The men in green will depart in the early hours of Saturday; they will play Sri Lanka in the opening match of the event in Fatullah. Pakistan won the last edition in 2012, after defeating the hosts by two runs in an enthralling final.
Misbah’s men have done well in their recent One Day International (ODI) assignments, clinching the first series victory in South Africa before overcoming Sri Lanka in the UAE home series.
‘Improved batting a big plus’
The middle-order batsman, who led Pakistan to the title in the last edition, feels that the four-day camp was enough for team’s preparations.
“We are completely ready and confident,” said the captain after conclusion of the training camp in Lahore.
“The team last played against Sri Lanka, the players also featured in the [Faysal Bank] T-20 Cup before this camp which has given us good preparations.
Results in the last two series have given us confidence and we are looking to maintain are momentum.”
The seasoned campaigner saw improvement in batting as a huge positive for his side.
“We have a very good combination. The team has been doing well in both batting and bowling, the improvement in batting is a big plus for us.”
However, the captain at the same time warned of tough opposition in the continental tournament.
“For me, every team is a favourite in this event.
“Bangladesh are going to be very tough in their home conditions like they proved by beating India in the last tournament.
“It’s a tough tournament and we will have to work very hard. We have the potential but it depends on how the players apply themselves.”
Pakistan will take on India on March 2 in the highly-anticipated contest and Misbah termed it a vital match.
He feels that India are unlikely to be hit hard by the absence of MS Dhoni who was ruled out of the tournament owing to an injury.
“Dhoni is a very experienced player but at the same time India have very good replacements.”
After their opening match, Misbah’s team will meet Afghanistan on February 27.
They will take on the hosts on March 4, Pakistan have won the Asia Cup twice [in 2000 and 2012] while India is the most successful team in the event, having won the tournament five times.
Misbah irked by retirement query
Meanwhile, the 39-year old looked annoyed when a reporter asked him about his retirement plans.
“I don’t know why people continue to ask me about my retirement.
I am concentrating on my game with full commitment as long as I play.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2014.