Newly appointed Pakistan one-day captain Azhar Ali Saturday said his team will not take Bangladesh lightly after their strong World Cup performance, promising a tough fight from his young players next week.
Ali will lead the team for the first time on tour starting with the first of three one-day internationals in Dhaka on Friday. He replaced Misbah-ul-Haq, who retired from one-day cricket after Pakistan slumped out of this year’s World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, in the quarterfinals.
Ali, 30, said his team is ready for Bangladesh, who shocked England to also reach the World Cup quarterfinals, where they lost to India.
“Bangladesh’s performance in the World Cup was good and they looked a much-improved side. They are also tough in their condition, so we are no way going to take them lightly,” Ali told reporters on the last day of the training camp. “There will be two teams fighting and I believe my young boys will perform well,” said Ali about the tour where Pakistan will also play a Twenty20 international followed by two Tests.
Ali said his young team, including new uncapped opener Sami Aslam, will progress with time. “I understand cricket has changed a lot and obviously we do have to take our cricket forward in a positive way. But if you expect a sudden change that is not going to happen as rather breaking in the race we should gradually bring on a change.”
Ali said he was inspired by former captain Haq, who is still leading Pakistan’s Test side. “I have a big example of Misbah who led Pakistan in tough times and positively. Being a team member I saw a lot of good things in him, how he handled the situations so this is going to help me. There are a lot of great captain around the world, but for me Misbah is the best captain I have played with.”
Ali hoped his under-performing batsmen would show improvement. “Bowlers definitely did well in the World Cup so we are going to rely on them, but it’s important that batsmen should also feel the sense of responsibility. Cricket is changing and we as a team have to play with a positive frame of mind. I am seeing how excited the players are. They want to do something good for Pakistan and I am sure… it will be a different side.”