‘The [Pakistan] team is in good shape’ for the Asia Cup, says Misbah-ul-Haq

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

“Cricket is a confidence game and we have been playing well in the last three-four months”

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has announced that he believes his “team is in good shape” as they prepare to defend their Asia Cup title.

Pakistan narrowly beat Bangladesh by two runs in the final of the 2012 Asia Cup, but ul-Haq revealed that the national teams’ confidence levels are sky-high coming into the tournament as they recently registered victories against South Africa and Sri Lanka.

“The [Pakistan] team is in good shape,” ul-Haq said. “Cricket is a confidence game and we have been playing well in the last three-four months. We have to do our basics right to have a good chance.”

Ul-Haq admitted that he has been extremely impressed with the performance of opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad as of late and believes that he will play crucial role in helping Pakistan retain their Asia Cup title.

“Ahmed Shehzad has been part of our team for quite a while, he has been doing well,” ul-Haq said. “He has improved. Sharjeel Khan had an average series, but he gave glimpses of being a good player, he can time the ball well. We are looking forward to see him develop into a good player.

“[Sohaib] Maqsood played well in South Africa and against Sri Lanka. With experienced players, few youngsters like Anwar Ali and Bilawal Bhatti, they are putting some good scores. I am happy that it is a good, balanced unit. Youngsters are always contributing with the senior players.”

Ul-Haq also noted that every team has an equal chance of winning the tournament and added that Afghanistan, who will be making their maiden appearance at the Asia Cup, should not be underestimated.

“All teams have ability to win against any side,” he said. “It will be good competition. Last Asia Cup was witness of that. Bangladesh beat two big teams, they came close to us. You can expect any team can win against any team.

“Afghanistan are a new, exciting team. They can do anything on a given day. They are not experienced, but they give their 100%. They have players that can really challenge other teams.”

The 39-year-old also pointed out that this tournament was a golden opportunity to start getting all the younger players in the side ready for the 2015 World Cup, which is less than a year away.

“I think it is good for the team that there is a chance to improve as a group,” he said. “Somewhere there is a knockout stage in these tournaments, so the competition level is there. You prepare yourself as a team so I think this is good preparation before the 2015 World Cup. These tournaments have their own importance.”

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