Pakistan confident despite Asif absence
Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan captain, is confident there is enough depth in his side's bowling to overcome the loss of their spearhead, Mohammad Asif, who was dropped from the squad after he was detained at Dubai airport for suspected possession of an illegal item.
"We still have a decent bowling attack in Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir and Iftikhar Anjum," Malik said. "They have been working hard throughout." In Asif's absence, Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, was banking on Sohail Tanvir to replicate his IPL form. Tanvir was instrumental in the success of the Rajasthan Royals - the champions - picking up 22 wickets at an average of 12.09, with a wicket every two overs.
Pakistan touched down in Bangladesh on Friday for the week-long one-day tournament, which also involves India and the hosts. The tournament is a preparatory event ahead of the Asia Cup in Pakistan later this month, and Malik is looking forward to continuing the team's record-breaking streak.
"Our target is to maintain the consistency that saw us winning 11 games in a row," Malik said. "We want to continue that streak. Everyone is fit and we are looking forward to a good series."
Pakistan whitewashed Zimbabwe and Bangladesh 5-0 in the ODI series at home earlier this year, after having beaten India in the final game of a five-ODI contest they lost 3-2 last year. The 11th win helped Malik's side edge past Pakistan's earlier record of ten wins, set in 1990. "Our aim is to win every match and the series. We want to set a record in Pakistan cricket. Our immediate goal is to win every match here and we want to be consistent with our play.
"I think if you look at few months back, when we were playing against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, everyone was in good nick. We are looking forward to good cricket over the next 10 days."
Pakistan play the tournament opener against Bangladesh on June 8, and would be favourites after having thrashed the same opposition 5-0 at home. "On home conditions they [Bangladesh] play a lot better and we got to be careful about it," Malik said." I want to win the first game, which would raise our confidence levels and we would learn how to play in Bangladesh since we are playing here after a long time." Malik suggested the composition of the playing XI and batting order would depend on the conditions.