May 6, 2013

ABBOTTABAD: Legendary fast bowler Wasim Akram has declared that the Pakistan team is favourite for the forthcoming ICC Cricket Champions Trophy due to its superior pace attack.

The high-profile ICC event is scheduled to be held in England from June 6.

Talking to reporters at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium during the national camp here on Saturday, Wasim said Pakistan’s main weapon in the upcoming event would be their powerful pace attack comprising young and experienced fast bowlers who would give the squad an edge over other competing teams.

The total number of camp trainees here reached 20 on Saturday which included 15 members of Pakistan squad plus five fast bowlers who remain under Wasim’s supervision after being selected through the ‘King of Speed’ programme.

The camp which commenced on May 2 will conclude on May 8 and the team will soon afterwards leave for the UK via Karachi where it will play two ODI matches each against Scotland and Ireland. Pakistan will also play a warm-up match against the West Indies on May 30 before launching the Champions Trophy campaign.

Hailing the PCB decision for holding the camp in Abbottabad, which is around 4,120 feet above sea level, Wasim said that the conditions here would benefit the players due to its similarity with the weather conditions in England.

“The stadium’s wicket is very helpful for the seamers and the weather conditions are more than perfect here,” Wasim remarked.

The Abbottabad stadium is surrounded by lush green hills and the heavy, seaming conditions are ideal for pacers to swing the ball besides helping them to build on their stamina for longer spells of bowling at this high altitude.

Pakistan’s former captain sounded quite satisfied with the performance of Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Umar Amin and others. He also specially mentioned the hardwork put in by newest pace sensation Ahmed Jamal who topped the ‘King of Speed’ trials in Karachi last month by bowling at 143kph.

Wasim predicted that Ahmed would soon will be part of national team but currently needs more first class and domestic cricket experience in order to gain more control on his line and length.

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Meanwhile, young middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq, while speaking to Dawn, said in the absence of senior batsman Younis Khan, he would be facing a lot of pressure to consolidate and carry the innings during the Champions Trophy matches.

“We are going to prepare ourselves to win our first fixture in Scotland and also to maintain the tempo in the warm-up matches before entering the Champions Trophy battle,” he said.

Pakistan cricketers are undergoing hectic physical exercises and nets training for almost four to five hours daily under head coach Dav Whatmore, fielding coach Julien Fountain, former captain Javed Miandad, bowling coach Mohammad Akram and assistant coach Shahid Aslam.

Miandad, while lauding the PCB decision to set up camp here, said the grassy ground at the stadium encouraged the fielders to dive and take difficult catches which could prove effective in the upcoming ICC event.

Shaukat Gul Khan Jadoon, the administrator of the ground and also the head of a leading Cricket Academy here, is providing back-up players and ground staff to the camp.

Giving his opinion, Jadoon said in past too, the camps set up in Abbottabad helped the team in producing outstanding results in international events.

The national team players are residing in the Pakistan Army School of Physical Fitness, Kakul, equipped with a highly sophisticated gym and trainers.

Extraordinary security arrangements have been made for the camp and several policemen are guarding the area throughout.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM



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