Pakistan focus on batting improvement
The Pakistan squad for Champions trophy spent the second day of their conditioning camp in Abbottabad focusing on their batting. The players had a full-fledged session under the guidance of former players Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram, while the regular coaches, Dav Whatmore and Mohammad Akram, took a backseat.
Misbah-ul-Haq, Nasir Jamshed and Umar Amin were batched together for a batting session with Miandad, while the bowlers - Mohammad Irfan, Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan - also spent time working on their batting with help from assistant coach Shahid Aslam. Ajmal, who is expected to play a significant role with the ball, showed he has worked on his batting with a couple of eye-catching shots - a back-foot cut and a slog over midwicket.
Asad Shafiq, who scored four consecutive half-centuries recently in the President's cup one day tournament, had an extended batting session for two hours. In the absence of Younis Khan, Shafiq will shoulder extra responsibility in the Pakistan middle order.
"I have batted on a track that helped both bowlers and batsmen, a pitch similar to what we are (expecting) to get in England," Shafiq said after the session. "My confidence is already up after playing in South Africa. I am trying to avoid being complacent and maintain my rhythm from these training sessions."
"My plan is to bat for big runs as I know the responsibility in his [Younis] absence has gone up. As a team, we understand how important it is to score runs to support our bowlers, as our group is a tough one. It's in our minds that we have to be ready and have to give our hundred per cent to winning the opening game."
Akram, who arrived today for a two-day visit, cited batting as the key if Pakistan are to succeed. He said that the team's chances in Champions Trophy are 'bright' but batsmen need to contribute regularly. "If our batting clicks, our bowlers will follow it up on a good note," Akram said. "Our strength has been the bowling. Even in my era, we never felt comfortable chasing the target. So our batsmen need to score runs.
"The are indeed preparing well, but we need to see how they execute the plans there in the matchesm," he said. "I always deem Pakistan as a favourite for such tournaments and with a proper planning we can beat any team any where."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here