We don't have to be afraid - Misbah
Misbah-ul-Haq has counselled his young team they have nothing to fear about the opening World Cup game against India, reasoning that Pakistan's record of five defeats in as many Cup matches against their great rival means his men have nothing to lose when they walk onto Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
Speaking ahead of what will be his final World Cup campaign, Misbah said he wanted his players to embrace the motivational element of the poor history against India, rather than ignoring it. Having brought a team to the tournament that lacks for experience if not talent, Misbah has seen enough evidence in recent days to suggest they will be capable of doing so.
"I think it's a big motivation for us that we've never won a game in the World Cup against India," Misbah told ESPNcricinfo. "So if we can just make it with an inexperienced team, most of the guys playing for the first time in a World Cup, that's a big motivation for them.
"We've got nothing to lose - just go out there, express yourselves and try to win it. Try to play good cricket. That will be a key for us tomorrow. You don't have to be afraid, because you can't control the result. What you can do is control your effort - go there, express yourself, put your efforts in and wait for the result that happens."
Pakistan began their southern hemisphere trip with a quartet of defeats in New Zealand, but victories over Bangladesh and England in Sydney have the team trending up at the right time. Misbah said concerns over the team's top order - notably the sluggish form of Younis Khan - were counterbalanced by the strong form shown further down the order, while the confidence of the bowlers was growing by the day.
"Our top order is doing well in bits and pieces, not having big innings yet, but I think Younis Khan is playing well, Haris Sohail is also playing well - it is unfortunate they are not getting big runs at the moment," he said. "Ahmed Shehzad is another key player for us and we're hoping that in the tournament he really comes through and that could really help us. But at the moment Sohaib Maqsood me and Umar Akmal are in good nick, and Shahid Afridi is also batting well. I think there are a lot of positives but also areas where we need to improve.
"The guys have really improved since the day we arrived in New Zealand, I think we are getting better in batting and also bowling, the last two games have really improved our bowling, even with the new ball and in the middle overs but especially with the death overs everybody has bowled really well. Wahab Riaz and Sohail Khan have bowled really well especially.
"When we arrived here in Sydney after losing all the games in New Zealand it was totally different. We were still having hopes but at that time when we lost so many games on the trot you feel a bit low. But after winning two games, especially against England where we not only won the game but we improved in so many areas where we were lacking in the last three or four games in New Zealand. That really gave us a lot of confidence."
One selection poser for Pakistan's tour leadership is whether or not to thrust the leg spin of Yasir Shah into the match against India with precious little ODI experience behind him. But Misbah spoke glowingly of Yasir, who first came to prominence with a sequence of spells against Australia in the UAE. He has already shown evidence of appreciating the extra bounce his role model Shane Warne so enjoyed in these parts, and Misbah was also enthused by Yasir's energy in the filed and aggression with the ball.
"The kind of bowling he did in the last two games he really proved his worth," Misbah said. "He bowled really well in the game against England and even the game before that. It was a bit of a green pitch against Bangladesh and they have played spin well, but he really bowled well and exploited that bounce very well.
"So he is really a good competitor, puts some energy in the team, the kind of efforts he puts in with the fielding and especially the kind of aggression he brings in the bowling line-up. He's really a good find for Pakistan."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig