Pakistan news March 7, 2012

Whatmore hopes for strong start

Dav Whatmore, Pakistan's new coach, has said he wants to make a good start in the four-nation Asia Cup, following Pakistan's dismal performance against England in the one-dayers. A 15-man squad gathered in Karachi before departing for Dhaka for the four-nation tournament starting on March 11.

"The Asia Cup is a very important tournament given the opposition," Whatmore told reporters. "Overall it's a difficult assignment so it is one of the many tests around and it's good to be the part of it and I am looking forward to it."

Pakistan have a poor record in the Asia Cup - winning the title once since the event first took place in 1984, while India have lifted the cup the most times (five), followed by Sri Lanka (four). But the event carries a unique importance due to a high-profile India v Pakistan contest. Pakistan will play their first match against Bangladesh on Sunday and take on Sri Lanka on March 15, before going head-to-head with arch-rivals India on March 18.

Whatmore has toned down the hype, suggesting that the match is similar to the others in the event. "We understand there's an extra bit of interest attached to the fixture against India and it's good for the game, people and for the players but we are treating it as any other match."

Whatmore, the 57-year-old former Australia batsman who coached Sri Lanka to a World Cup title in 1996, took charge on Saturday on a two-year contract, with his first assignment in Dhaka. Pakistan will land in Bangladesh having conceded 4-0 and 2-1 defeats in the one-day and T20 matches against England in the United Arab Emirates last month.

"That was a little bit not in the script and I am sure the team wants to make amends," Whatmore said. "Certainly they had terrific Test series and that was a little bit of a surprise but that's the way it goes some time. We are not looking back and look to put our best foot forward and work on those areas where we can improve and rectify.

"Everyone starts the game at a level playing field. It's important that we are able to focus on what we are capable of doing - respect the opposition but we focus on what we can do - we can't make the opposition do anything different."

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq was confident his team can bounce back. "We failed to perform at our best against England," Misbah said. "But the team will not repeat the same mistakes again. There is nothing to be worried after the failure against England because the same team has performed well in the last one-and a-half years."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

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