Haris Sohail, the Pakistan middle-order batsman, said it was important for his team to focus on getting used to conditions during the five one-day internationals in England before the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 gets underway.
Of the overseas teams, Pakistan is at the greatest advantage in terms of adapting to conditions for the World Cup as they will be facing hosts England, the No.1 team on the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings, in an ODI series days before the World Cup begins on 30 May.
Counting the sole Twenty20 International and the World Cup warm-up matches to follow, Pakistan will end up playing close to 10 matches before the World Cup starts, and want to make it count.
“The CWC is still a little while away,” said Sohail. “Earlier, we have a very important series against England. England is a quality side, the No.1 team. If we win that series, we’ll get a great deal of help in getting used to those conditions. We still have about ten matches to go before the CWC if you count all the practice matches. So we’re hopeful of getting acclimatized well and producing good results at the World Cup.”
On a personal note, Sohail is enjoying the great form and will hope to take that into the showpiece event. He goes into the England series on the back of two centuries against Australia in UAE.
“Since the Aussies series, my confidence and form are in a good place,” Haris said. “Over the past few days, I wasn’t feeling too great, but a match situation is different, and the practice match we played today, the ball felt great on the bat.”
Despite Haris Sohail scoring 291 runs at 72.75 in that series against Australia, Pakistan conceded each of the five ODIs. Some felt that part of the reason for the repeated failures was the inability of batsmen to score quickly enough. There have been concerns that the team is falling behind in that area, but Sohail downplayed those doubts.
“Cricket is a different game nowadays,” Haris said. “Now, when you’re No.3 or 4 plays big innings or get a hundred, batsmen play around him. In one day international cricket, a total above 300 is now par. Not in the UAE, where pitches are slower and you need to take more time. But definitely, that applies in countries like England. So over there, you’ll see us play more aggressively.”
Babar Azam, Pakistan’s middle-order star, is known for his more classically styled shots along the ground, but he too feels he is equipped to go big when the situation demands that of him.
“If I can be No.1 in the world without power hitting, then I don’t need power hitting,” he said. “But when I need to, I utilize it well. I don’t just play along the ground. I practice striking the ball big and when desired, I use it. My role is to play out the complete overs. My separate role is to take the innings as deep as I can and perform in a way that benefits the team most of all.”
Pakistan’s series against England will start with a one-off T2OI in Cardiff on 5 May and the all-important ODI series will begin on 8 May.
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