Pakistan opening batsman Fakhar Zaman said his team are favourites to win next year’s World Cup in England.
Zaman was one of the star performers for Pakistan during last year’s Champions Trophy win in England. The left-hander hit a sizzling century in the final against India as the men in green crushed their traditional rivals by 180 runs at The Oval.
The 28-year-old Zaman has so far played 18 ODIs, scoring 1065 runs at a staggering average of 76. He also became the first Pakistan batsman to hit an ODI double hundred – 210 against Zimbabwe in July.
Zaman said Pakistan’s recent record and their win in the Champions Trophy make them favourites for the World Cup.
“The current Pakistan team combination is brilliant and the results we have recently produced are good proof of that,” he was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
“We will travel to England to win the title and not just to make up the numbers. I do feel that it is right for us to be labelled favourites for the 2019 World Cup as our team will be well equipped for this tournament.”
ASIA CUP NEXT
Pakistan’s immediate goal is the Asia Cup in September, which also includes India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and a qualifier.
“At the moment, I am fully focused on doing well in the upcoming Asia Cup,” he said. “Of course, the 2019 World Cup is an important tournament, but it’s far too early for me to start planning for it as there are other international assignments to take care of before that tournament.”
Zaman has been brilliant in white ball cricket but is yet to represent his country in Tests. Pakistan’s next red-ball clash will be against Australia and New Zealand in the UAE and the opener is hoping to get an opportunity.
“Regardless of which team I play against, the fact is that Test cricket is one format that provides the ultimate test of skills for a player and to perform well in this form of the game is my dream. When that opportunity does arrive, I will do my best,” Zaman said.
“While I could not debut in Tests during the recent tour of Ireland and England, I learnt a lot from that tour and also worked very hard on my batting technique, which I feel will help me in Tests.
“I do not know what the future holds for me in Test cricket but I can confidently say that I am continuing to prepare well and will be ready if I am given a chance.”
Pakistan left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Irfan bowled the most economical spell in the history of Twenty20 cricket on Saturday as he conceded a run only off the final ball of his spell and finished with two wickets.
Irfan, playing for Barbados Tridents against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the Caribbean Premier League, snared the wickets of West Indian stars Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis.
However, his sensational effort wasn’t enough as the Patriots reached the victory target of 148 with seven balls to spare and six wickets in hand.
“I’m really happy. I would’ve been happier if the team won, but I am happy that I bowled one of the best spells in T20 cricket,” Irfan said after the match.
“I liked bowling on the lively wicket, and I get extra bounce because of my height. So yes, a satisfying performance.”
The 36-year-old Irfan dismissed Gayle with the first delivery of the innings and picked up the scalp of Lewis in his second.
Brandon King took a single from his very last delivery to deny Irfan a fourth maiden. Irfan ended with figures of 4-3-2-1. He hasn’t played for Pakistan for more than two years.
With Pakistan due to take on Australia in a two-Test series in the UAE, Fakhar is preparing himself for a call-up.
“I’m eager to play Test cricket. Currently I’m rigorously preparing for the series against Australia and hope that I will be given an opportunity during the series,” the left-hander told the Daily Express in an interview.
The schedule for Australia’s tour of the UAE is yet to be released by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) with the two sides also slated to play three T20Is apart from the two Tests.
The swashbuckling batsman is yet to make his Test debut for his country. Fakhar was selected in the Pakistan Test squad during their recent tour of England but he wasn’t picked in the playing XI for either of the two Tests.
Fakhar and the men in green will also turn their attention to the upcoming Asia Cup in the UAE where they are due to take on India on September 19.
The 28-year-old batsman believes Pakistan can repeat their 2017 heroics where they lifted the ICC Champions Trophy in England after beating their arch-rivals and neighbours in the final.
“We are preparing adequately in order to perform to the best of our ability. We are capable of repeating the performance we showed in the last Champions Trophy in England,” he stated.
The opening batsman was in sensational form during the side’s tour of Zimbabwe where he broke Virat Kohli’s record to become the fastest player to score 1,000 ODI runs.
Despite his recent exploits with the bat, the Pakistan man counts his century against India in the Champions Trophy final as his best innings.
“Despite breaking a lot of records in the recent past, my favourite innings for Pakistan is one against India in the final of Champions Trophy 2017. That innings made the entire nation happy and that’s what makes it memorable,” he said.