Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq is confident Pakistan will put up a strong performance at the Champions Trophy in England in June.
Pakistan have never won the Champions Trophy before or even made it to the final, which will be something the national team will be looking to end this year.
However, given that the tournament will be held in England, Misbah admitted that Pakistan will have to be at their very best if they are to have any chance of being crowned champions.
“The Champions Trophy is not an easy tournament,” he said. “We have not won it yet. The best eight teams will be competing. Pakistan have to play very well against all teams. But I’m sure that the squad now touring West Indies will get adequate practice for the Champions Trophy.
“The selectors have done a good job. This is young side which is capable of winning in my view. Whenever a young team plays it also shows lot of determination. I’m very optimistic with the passage this team will gain a lot in experience and challenge the best sides in the world on equal terms. I hope Sarfraz and team perform well and win the Champions Trophy.”
Pakistan are currently in the West Indies and are involved in a four-match Twenty20 series. After that, they will play three ODIs, which Misbah admitted will be good preparation for the squad ahead of the Champions Trophy.
“Winning does help a lot because it builds the momentum to do well,” Misbah said. “The coming ODI [three] matches in the West Indies are very crucial for us. If Pakistan win them all, then they will obviously improve their chances of playing in the World Cup without having to through the qualification process.
“Winning also raises the confidence level and when that happens, automatically the win ratio goes up. We play India first in the Champions Trophy and if we beat them then there is no reason to believe that Pakistan cannot win the title this time. Defeating India is something we all want to see when Pakistan face them.”
The 42-year-old also admitted that Sarfraz Ahmed is the right man to be leading the ODI team. Sarfraz replaced Azhar Ali as captain after the latter resigned in February.
“I think Sarfraz deserves this honour [leading Pakistan in ODIs],” Misbah added. “His performance so far has been excellent in the T20 format. He thinks positive and it shows as the team under his leadership is playing well. We as a nation should back him since he brings lot of energy in his style [of captaincy].
“Having said that, Sarfraz is someone who takes quick decisions and the way cricket is played these days requires this approach. He is leading the side very well and gives his players full backing.”
Meanwhile, Misbah also conceded it is a shame that Pakistan and India have not played any bilateral series against each other as of late.
The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014 that would see them play six series in eight years, but so far, they haven’t played any due to their frosty relations.
“This is a political issue and nobody can do much,” Misbah said. “But the public of both countries really want to see Pakistan and India play against each other.”