Asia Cup 2014

Misbah confident despite tough competition

Mohammad Isam

February 23, 2014

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Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez put on 84 for the second wicket
Pakistan have the right mix of experience and youth, says Misbah-ul-Haq © AFP
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Players/Officials: Misbah-ul-Haq
Series/Tournaments: Asia Cup
Teams: Pakistan

Misbah-ul-Haq has said that Pakistan's blend of experienced players and newcomers has had success and the team remains confident of successfully defending their Asia Cup title. Pakistan, who beat Bangladesh in the 2012 final, come to the tournament on the back of series wins over Sri Lanka and South Africa.

"The [Pakistan] team is in good shape," Misbah said. "Cricket is a confidence game and we have been playing well in the last three-four months. We have to do our basics right to have a good chance."

Misbah and Mohammad Hafeez have led Pakistan with the bat in the last 12 months, scoring in excess of thousand runs, and Ahmed Shehzad has not been far behind. Misbah was also confident that the relatively inexperienced group that includes Sharjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Talha, Bilawal Bhatti and Anwar Ali will give the team balance.

"Ahmed Shehzad has been part of our team for quite a while, he has been doing well," Misbah said. "He has improved. Sharjeel Khan had an average series, but he gave glimpses of being a good player, he can time the ball well. We are looking forward to see him develop into a good player.

"[Sohaib] Maqsood played well in South Africa and against Sri Lanka. With experienced players, few youngsters like Anwar Ali and Bilawal Bhatti, they are putting some good scores. I am happy that it is a good, balanced unit. Youngsters are always contributing with the senior players."

Misbah said the competition in the Asia Cup was going to be tough, as all the teams understood the conditions. He also said Afghanistan, the first-timers in the tournament, were not to be taken lightly.

"All teams have ability to win against any side," he said. "It will be good competition. Last Asia Cup was witness of that. Bangladesh beat two big teams, they came close to us. You can expect any team can win against any team.

"Afghanistan are a new, exciting team. They can do anything on a given day. They are not experienced, but they give their 100%. They have players that can really challenge other teams."

With the 2015 World Cup less than a year away, this is Pakistan's opportunity to groom their team. "I think it is good for the team that there is a chance to improve as a group. Somewhere there is a knockout stage in these tournaments, so the competition level is there. You prepare yourself as a team so I think this is good preparation before the 2015 World Cup. These tournaments have their own importance."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by sidh78 on (February 25, 2014, 7:16 GMT)

@dear SL fans, SL is better than india outside SC(oversies)really? what a joke.india won CT in engaland,CB series in Aus, tri series & bi lateral series in westindies,T20 WC in SA,NestWest series in engaland, finalist in WC 2003 in SA,test series win in Eng,NZ,WI.draw series in SA,Aus in last few years.plz show me any team in SC which have such sucsess.what SL won oversies just tell me.in last 14 years SL not won a single series outside SL(not consider BD series.but there also SL strugle to win.BD team have bad luck otherwise they beat SL in 2 t20& 2 odi) india beat SL in every part of the world.in aus(remember hobart) in WI ,in ban.even india beat SL in SL in last four bi lateral series.last series india won 4-1 in SL. .but in this asia cup i think pak has most chance & second SL.because india have yong & inexperienced team.also not have dhoni raina yuvraj.without dhoni it is very tough for india becoz he is the best finisher in the world

Posted by   on (February 25, 2014, 4:55 GMT)

Pakistan's opposition will surely be glad to see Kamran and Malik back in the side. These two never score much runs and SL must be jumping with glee.

Posted by hellothereeveryone on (February 24, 2014, 10:51 GMT)

If you go by ranking India is favorite (especially in subcontinent conditions) but if you go by current form Pakistan are favorites. I feel it is going to be Pakistan bowling vs India batting unless Sri Lanka play really well and beat these arch rivals.

Posted by xylofon on (February 24, 2014, 10:33 GMT)

Devastated to not see Nasir Jamshed but see people like Shoaib Malik, dinosaur Babar Azam and Bilawal Bhatti getting picked - especially considering we need a strong batting unit.

I dont know if Haris Sohail is in but he is one of those future guys and the future is NOW. Not getting picked despite of good performances in the national team is not easy to forgive, (remember him against windies last year?). And that is just more than domestic a good domestic average we are talking about here.

Posted by   on (February 24, 2014, 9:56 GMT)

I am a truly sri lanken. And i'm not totally agreed the comment of 'SLisBestinEarth' . it is embarrassing. we can't underestimate any team. surely he can't be a real sri lankan fan. apologize from my friendly indian and pakisthani fans. i think game is on. next week will give the results.. Cheers..!!

Posted by   on (February 24, 2014, 9:23 GMT)

@gurdit. I think you ve forgot ur white washes in nz sa

Posted by AkhilaDahanayake on (February 24, 2014, 8:53 GMT)

@Murtamac, I see u havent been following cricket lately, otherwise u would know that BD pitches are not the same like other subcontinent pitches. I was following the SL vs PAK in UAE as well as SL vs BD in BD. So there's a difference in the pitches. About ur batting, actually when batting clicks, any team can dominate the opponents but that clicking dosent happen often dose it? And u are anyway giving a biased opinion while im giving an analysis of the situation.

Posted by   on (February 24, 2014, 8:48 GMT)

india are still favourites to win this asia cup without dhoni.Rohit sharma,Dhawan and kohli would be unstoppable on these flat pitches and jadeja and ashwin could be handy on turning pitches.even India's second best xi is good enough to beat pakistan.just take a look at it:- 1.gambhir 2.sehwag 3.pujara 4.yuvraj 5.k jadhav/uthappa 6.saurabh tiwary 7.rishi dhawan 8.harbhajan 9.mishra 10.zaheer 11.umesh indias bench strengh is good enough to beat Pakistan and sri lanka.

Posted by MurtaMac on (February 24, 2014, 8:05 GMT)

@ AkhilaDahanayake - The conditions in Bangladesh are not too dissimilar to conditions all the Asian nations are familiar with including Pakistan, so your point is not valid on the batting requiring time to get used to BD conditions. Pak bowling is our strongest point. The batting when it clicks can be more than useful, Ahmed Shehzad is maturing at the right time and if he guards against complacency and over confidence, can be our best opening batsman since the great Saeed Anwer. With there being no Dhoni, I think PAK has to be the strongest side in the competition and I fancy Misbah and co to retain our title. Come on PAK!!

Posted by mum2550 on (February 24, 2014, 8:04 GMT)

What wrong has Sarfraz done for not making tos Asia Cup squad and the T20 WC. Just a few weeks back the entire media and cricketing greats were all praising his attacking attitude. I don't agree with inclusions of Kamran and Malik in T20 squad as they have been tested n failed a lot of times. Anyhow, good wishes with PAK team for both asia cup and WT20.

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Tournament Results
Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Dhaka - Mar 8, 2014
Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets (with 22 balls remaining)
Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Dhaka - Mar 6, 2014
Sri Lanka won by 3 wickets (with 6 balls remaining)
Afghanistan v India at Dhaka - Mar 5, 2014
India won by 8 wickets (with 106 balls remaining)
Bangladesh v Pakistan at Dhaka - Mar 4, 2014
Pakistan won by 3 wickets (with 1 ball remaining)
Afghanistan v Sri Lanka at Dhaka - Mar 3, 2014
Sri Lanka won by 129 runs
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