- Pakistan beat England in their last game by 14 runs at Trent Bridge
- Grant Flower says that Pakistan will not take Sr Lanka lightly
Confidence may be surging through the Pakistan team after their stunning win against England, but batting coach Grant Flower insists they are not about to take Sri Lanka for granted.
Pakistan put a comprehensive seven-wicket defeat by West Indies in their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 opener behind them by upsetting the tournament hosts in their second game at Trent Bridge.
The triumph ended Pakistan’s run of 11 consecutive ODI losses and they will now look to carry their momentum into their clash with Sri Lanka, who beat Afghanistan last time out.
But although Flower admitted the players are in a good place after bringing their winless streak to an abrupt end, he is wary of the threat posed by Sri Lanka’s seam attack in Bristol.
“You always got to be respectful of the other team and they have got good bowlers,” he said. “I just came out of a batting net to see their skills and I think it should be a good game.
“Hopefully the weather stays away, the forecast is a bit poor at the moment, but I don’t think we’ll be targeting any one individual as they have got several good seamers.
“They also have some spinners with some really good skills, so the guys are fully focused on the challenge ahead and they know what to expect against Sri Lanka.
“I definitely sense quite a bit of confidence in the players [after England win], especially in the meeting we had this morning and it has taken off the pressure definitely.
“Having gone through those string of defeats, psychologically that lifts a huge wait from their shoulders and to score 350 against a very good England attack, the guys are relived.
“They had a day off, a travel day, and then it was an option net for some of the players, but hopefully we’re going to get a good afternoon’s practice and then show their skills again.”
The victory against England was a vast change in fortunes for Flower’s men, who posted a commanding 348/8 just days after being bowled out for just 105 against the West Indies.
Babar Azam was once again among the runs against England as he posted another fifty, meaning the resolute No.3 batsman’s last four ODI scores read 115, 80, 22 and 63.
And Flower believes Azam will only continue to get better as the tournament continues, predicting the 24-year-old has all the ability to be one of the best players in the world.
“I think he has come a long way, I think his game is improving all the time and so is his strike rate,” he said. “I think he is going to develop more, but I think he is close to the top of his game.
“He is a very exciting player to watch and obviously it’s up to the other guys to bat around him at times, they all have different roles but he is going to be one of the best players in the world.
“If their job is to score runs and to get scores of 350 then they are doing their job, so you just have to ask them to repeating it, do the hard training and put in the hours in the net.
“If they keep executing their skills under pressure, hopefully the bowlers will then back that up, but that didn’t happen in quite a few of the games against England in the bi-lateral series.
“We didn’t adapt well to the conditions against the West Indies, technically we were a bit poor on the day, and I think there were a lot of nerves being the first World Cup match.
“The guys got over that against England and they showed their proper skills. It was a true test of character and they came through with flying colours in the second game.”