Pakistan look beyond Zim tour
Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter—
PAKISTAN cricket team coach Mickey Arthur has said they are looking beyond the tour of Zimbabwe where they are expected to feature in a T20I Triangular series and then a five-match One Day International series.
He says they have their eyes firmly fixed on next year’s World Cup.
The Asians arrived in Harare yesterday for a T20 series that also involves giants Australia with two squads for the T20s and the ODIs.
Former Zimbabwe batsman Grant Flower was also part of the tourists in his capacity as the Pakistan batting coach.
The T20I series begins this Sunday with round robin matches that will culminate in a final on July 8 at Harare Sports Club.
Afterwards, Pakistani will engage the hosts in a five-match ODI series from July 13-22 at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
Arthur yesterday told The Herald that they are aiming to maintain their good form in the shortest version of the game following a rather prosperous run this year which has seen them maintain their top spot on the ICC T20I rankings.
He said he was excited by his young squad led by Sarfraz Ahmed.
“Our expectation is just to keep growing. We have got a young team and we just want to keep working and keep getting better.
‘’We have set some really good standards over the last year and we just want keep maintaining those all the time.
“I think it’s going to be a great series for all teams. Zimbabwe are building up as well so it’s going to be a great series for everybody and I think will be some pretty competitive cricket,” said Arthur.
Pakistan are coming to Zimbabwe in the back of encouraging results that include a 2-1 series win over New Zealand in January, 3-0 whitewash of West Indies in April and the 2-0 victory over Scotland earlier this month.
Pakistan are expected to get the ball rolling when they face hosts Zimbabwe in the opening match of the triangular series on Sunday.
The triangular series will be followed by a five-match ODI series against the hosts from July 13-22 at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
Arthur said the ODI series was crucial to look at combinations ahead of the Asia Cup which will take place from September 13–28.
The ultimate goal for the Pakistan team, however, is the ICC World Cup to be held in England next year.
“We are looking forward to it (the ODI series). It gives us an opportunity to have a look at different combinations. We are trying some new players in that format.
“It gives us an opportunity of looking at combinations before we select for the Asia Cup and then the Asia Cup obviously leads us into the World Cup.
“This tour is going to be very good in terms of One Day cricket to have a look at our combinations before we make a final decision going forward to the World Cup,” said Arthur.
The former South Africa international said he was happy with how his team has been progressing.
All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez returned to the Pakistan squad for both formats while the uncapped 22-year old batsman Sahibzada Farhan was called up for T20 series.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who missed the tour of England and Ireland with an injury, was included in the one-day international squad.
Babar Azam, who is recovering from the arm fracture he picked up on the tour of England, has been named in the ODI side subject to fitness.
Former captain Azhar Ali is a notable omission from the ODI 50-over squad.
Australia, who are the third team in the T20I Triangula series, are expected to arrive in Harare shortly before midday today from a poor tour of England where they suffered a whitewash.
T20I squad: Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Sahibzada Farhan.
ODI squad: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam (subject to fitness), Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan*, Usman Khan*, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Haris Sohail