Fitness, fielding areas remain a worry as team departs for New Zealand today

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 8:56:42 by

LAHORE: The two vulnerable areas which may cost Pakistan dearly in the ICC World Cup 2015 are the players’ fitness and fielding levels which need to be improved considerably if the Green­shirts want to make a solid impact in the mega event and reach the podium.

The Pakistan team is leaving for New Zealand on Tuesday to take part in the two-match ODI series before heading to Australia to play the World Cup which will be held from Feb 14 to March 29.

While Pakistan boasts a fairly good batting-line up with a number of dashing players featuring in it, the bowling attack somewhat lacks the firepower, quality and experience required for an event of World Cup’s magnitude and competitiveness.

However, Pakistan’s chances of making an impact in Australia and New Zealand hinge greatly on the fitness levels of the players, especially the fast bowlers, besides the agility and reliability in the fielding department.

One strongly feels that the progress or the lack of it in these two areas can make or break Pakistan in the upcoming extravaganza.

In the last 12 months, Pakistan players have struggled to keep the fielding and fitness levels upto a satisfactory mark.

Two foreign coaches — Grant Luden as the fielding coach and Brad Robinson as the team physiotherapist — have been working with the Pakistan team for the last one year but, unfortunately, no visible improvement have been observed in the two areas till now.

During this period, almost all the leading pacemen including Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Ehsan Adil and lanky Mohammad Irfan have faced fitness problems.

In fact Gul, one of the most experienced fast bowlers in Pakistan, missed the World Cup selection for the same reason while Junaid, who of late has become injury-prone, barely managed to feature in six ODIs in the last 12 months due to fitness problems. Though he is seen as an integral part of the team, he is still grappling with a hamstring problem as the team prepares to leave for New Zealand.

As for Wahab, he has also been on the injury list time and again and was able to feature in only eight matches out of a total 16 that Pakistan played in the last 12 months.

Irfan, however, played 11 ODIs which was creditable for the tall paceman keeping in view his injury graph in the past.

The fourth pacer in the squad is Ehsan Adil did not play a single ODI during the last one year as he was not found good enough to make the playing eleven. In his entire career, Ehsan has played just two ODIs which makes one wonder why the selectors preferred him to Anwar Ali and a few others.

The Pakistan team held a short four-day training camp in Lahore last week as part of the World Cup preparations and almost every player and coach who talked to the media during this four-day span stressed on the unity factor among the players for achieving success in the World Cup.

Going by this one feels that somewhere in the ranks, the team is facing a grouping threat or there is a hint of disunion. However, one sincerely hopes that everything falls in place at the right time and the problems, if any, get ironed out.

In a recent talk with the media, PCB chairman Shaharyar M Khan admitted that while the Pakistan team has no star players like AB de Villiers (South Africa) or Virat Kohli (India) or Chris Gayle (West Indies), but the players are full of spirits and are determined to do well in the World Cup which is a positive thing indeed.

The spin bowling attack, too, is not on full strenght by any means with both Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez facing the ICC sanctions over illegal bowling actions. It is, therefore, left to seasoned all-rounder Shahid Afridi, new sensation Yasir Shah and hard-working Haris Sohail to fill the gap as slow bowlers.

Pakistan have six matches scheduled before the World Cup including two official games against New Zealand and four other practice matches that include games against England and Bangladesh.They will no doubt test the abilities and skills of Pakistan players prior to the mega event and will help our players prepare for it in a better manner.

World Cup squad: Ahmed Shehzad, Ehsan Adil, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Sarfraz Ahmed (wicket-keeper), Shahid Afridi, Sohaib Maqsood, Sohail Khan, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah and Younis Khan.

Team Management: Manager: Naveed Akram Cheema; head coach: Waqar Younus; spin bowling coach: Mushtaq Ahmad; batting coach: Grant Flower; fielding coach: Grant Luden; physio: Brad Robinson; assistant manager: Shahid Aslam; security manager: Col. Mohammad Azam Khan; media manager: Agha Akbar; analyst: Talha Butt.

Published in:CCNINEWS:54bdd522665c0 January 20th , 2015

Lahore News Sources

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