Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed here on Thursday said Asia Cup is a great chance for Pakistan to rise up in the ICC ODI team rankings, especially when 2019 Cricket World Cup is not far away. He said half the teams who will feature in the World Cup are participating in the Asia Cup so it is a great chance for us to see where we stand, said an ICC press release. “We have sweet memories of the ICC Champions Trophy last year but we have new challenges ahead,” he said.
Several leading players go into the upcoming Asia Cup aiming to not only consolidate their positions in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Player Rankings but also to use the multi-nation tournament in preparation for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. With five of the six teams in the Asia Cup to feature in next year’s mega event, players are excited at the prospect of being pitted against the best of the region in the 15-28 September tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
The Asia Cup commences with a match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Dubai on Saturday. Afghanistan, qualifiers Hong Kong, India and Pakistan get into action later as they try to qualify for the Super Four stage and get more tournament practice with just eight months to go for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14. Meanwhile second-ranked batsman Pakistan’s Babar Azam said we as a team, are looking forward to the Asia Cup.
“I know India’s Virat Kohli is way ahead in terms of rating points but this is definitely a chance to consolidate my position at number two and gain some valuable ranking points,” he said. Third-ranked bowlerof Pakistan Hasan Ali said Asia Cup is going to be an opportunity for a lot of our players. “I have been top-ranked in the format earlier and will try to reach the summit once again. This tournament provides me with a chance to work towards that objective,” he said. Former cricketer Aamir Sohail sees Pakistan a much tougher team than India in Asia Cup noting the 2017 Champions Trophy win has boosted green-shirts morale.
Pakistan will face arch rivals India on September 19. The Asia Cup features six nations including Pakistan, defending champions India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and Afghanistan.
Talking to APP, Aamir, who played 47 Test matches and 156 ODIs said Pakistan’s Champions Trophy win will give them more confidence when they face India in the competition.
“However Pakistan must monitor how India and Sri Lanka execute their plan on the field as both are tough teams and good competition is expected from them,” he said.
He said Pakistan will still have an edge over other teams as they have played in the UAE more than others.
Speaking on improving the internal affairs of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Aamir said chairman Ehsan Mani must conduct an evaluation process (performance based) among the board officials sitting at top slots.
“A person who has been performing must continue while those not giving results should be held accountable,” he said and added Mani must eliminate politics from PCB.
Responding to a question regarding the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between PCB and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2014 to play bilateral series from 2015 to 2023, he said former PCB chairman Najam Sethi had just given false hopes to the whole Pakistani nation about the Pak-India series otherwise there was no such thing on paper.