Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis has announced that he is “happy” the national team are not considered favourites to win the World Cup.
Younis noted that the same thing was said about Pakistan in the 2011 edition of the tournament, but they still went on to reach the semi-finals.
“I am happy that we are not favourites,” Younis said. “To be very honest it’s big pressure being favourites. We were not favourites last time (in 2011) too but we played excellent cricket. Similarly this time, there are teams which play on those bouncy wickets like Australia and South Africa, and are probably bigger favourites than us. But we hope that with the type of resources we have we can do well.”
In order to get prepared for the World Cup, which will begin on February 14, Pakistan recently had a five-day training camp and will also face New Zealand in two ODIs prior to the start of the iconic tournament.
“As far as the camp is concerned, we had been playing cricket for the last three months, the camp was just for bonding, to recollect things for four-five days,” Younis said. “Of course conditions were quite different from where we are going, here it was quite cold, but we are going to New Zealand first, and we have two weeks to get used to the conditions there.
“That’s all you got and it’s not that every team, apart from three teams which are playing in Australia…the conditions will be same for all other teams as well. We had been playing for quite some time now and you don’t want to get burn out, you don’t want to get fatigued. You need fresh people and we are trying to keep them fresh. We have few matches before the World Cup and I think we have sufficient time.”
However, Pakistan were given a major scare when left-arm pace bowler Junaid Khan appeared to be seriously hurt when he slipped while bowling in the nets last Thursday.
“Unfortunately injuries hit us at the wrong time and you get a setback,” Younis said. “On the face of it, it looks that we are taking lots of injuries but I don’t think there are so many injuries. We had problems to our fast bowlers for few months and of course the recent episode with Junaid is a setback. If you can’t have injuries you can’t move forward.
“I don’t want to name favorites and put my team under pressure. All the bowlers will have to share the workload until the World Cup and probably to get the best combination it’s the best thing to do. We have high hopes from Irfan, Wahab (Riaz) and Junaid. They are all experienced bowlers. All they need is to stay fit and fresh.”
Younis also stated that captain Misbah-ul-Haq and all-rounder Shahid Afridi will give it their all during the World Cup since they will be retiring from ODIs after the tournament ends.
“I can tell you from the results of the last four-five days that they decided to finish on a high,” he said. “Their body language is very positive and it’s a very positive sign for our youngsters that if someone has decided to quit, they have promised to us that they are going to give not 100 percent but 150 percent in their last tournament. After playing for so long they still have something in the tank. I want to see the best from them and I am sure both of them will give their 100 per cent.”