Shahid Afridi realises that a climb up the International Cricket Council table will be a gradual process that can be achieved through consistent performances by the team on the tour of West Indies.
KARACHI: The Pakistan cricket team left for the West Indies yesterday as they look to continue their impressive run this year which saw them beat New Zealand in the One-Day International (ODI) series and reach the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup.
The team’s target, after exceeding expectations at the mega event, is to improve their ranking where they currently lie sixth in the Test and ODI tables, according to the limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi.
“We’re looking to improve our ranking on this tour,” said Afridi prior to his departure for the West Indies yesterday. “We will try to get the best results against West Indies right from the word go as that will give us a good start in our campaign.”
Onus on youngsters
The captain did maintain that a rise in the rankings will not come overnight and was a gradual process but urged his team to show consistency in order to achieve the desired results. With six uncapped players in the squad, Pakistan will be relying heavily on lesser-experienced talent in order to produce results on the tour.
“It is a gradual process but we have talented youngsters who can help us improve by performing with the required consistency. There are a lot of young players but they are not short of talent and won their place in the squad by performing in the domestic circuit.
“I was also impressed with their performance in the training camp and if they show the same commitment on the tour, we have a very good chance of success.”
The inclusion of youngsters, according to Afridi, would also help the selectors in forming a pool of players keeping next year’s World Twenty20 in mind.
Warning against complacency
Afridi, however, cautioned his players against complacency against a team ranked lower than them. Pakistan thrashed West Indies by ten wickets in the quarter-final of the World Cup but the captain urged an attacking frame of mind on the tour.
“West Indies are also in a rebuilding stage and they will come out with a positive frame of mind. They will give the extra effort so it is not going to be an easy task. We will also need to show a lot of maturity and responsibility. I will also focus on my batting and will try to be responsible which is very important for my team.”
Unperturbed by West Indies pitches
Team manager Intikhab Alam, while talking to reporters at Lahore airport, looked confident of success on the tour despite the squad undergoing just nine hours of training in the two-day camp held in Lahore.
“Considering their squad and the pitches there in the Caribbean, I don’t see any trouble for our players,” said Alam. “I am hopeful that our youngsters will perform well and win the series.”
Pakistan will be fielding Muhammad Salman behind the stumps, in for the under-performing Kamran Akmal and their bowling will be spearheaded by Wahab Riaz who grabbed a five-wicket haul in the semi-final defeat at Mohali at the hands of World Champions India.
The 20-year-old Usman Salahuddin was drafted into the squad in place of Younus Khan while all-rounder Hammad Azam has been called up after Abdul Razzaq was omitted by the selectors.
(With additional reporting from Umar Farooq)
Team manager Initkhab Alam
“Considering their squad and the pitches there in the Caribbean, I don’t see any trouble for our players. I am hopeful that our youngsters will perform well and win the series against the West Indies.”