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Cricket-Pakistan hope big changes can bear early fruit in World Cup

Reuters |
May 30, 2024 01:32 PM IST

CRICKET-T20/PAKISTAN (PREVIEW, PIX):PREVIEW-Cricket-Pakistan hope big changes can bear early fruit in World Cup

By Shrivathsa Sridhar

Cricket-Pakistan hope big changes can bear early fruit in World Cup
Cricket-Pakistan hope big changes can bear early fruit in World Cup

May 30 - Pakistan are dangerous opponents for the best of teams in major tournaments but they could face a rocky road in their quest for a first Twenty20 World Cup title since their sole triumph in 2009 after a radical overhaul in recent months.

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An underwhelming display in the 50-overs World Cup in India last year, where the team failed to qualify for the tournament's knockout stages after losing five of their nine games, led to Babar Azam stepping down as captain in all formats.

Pacer Shaheen Afridi was put in charge of the T20 squad but Pakistan were thrashed 4-1 in New Zealand in January, prompting Babar to take the reins again in white-ball cricket, and he led the team to a nervy 2-2 home draw against the same opponents.

"As a captain, I have always valued Shaheen's input and I will keep consulting him for important decisions going forward. We must take advantage of his strategic understanding of the game," Babar said.

"Our joint aim is to make this team the best in the world."

After a sobering defeat by Ireland, Pakistan clinched a 2-1 series victory in Dublin before losing the second game of their rain-hit four-match series against T20 champions England where new coach Gary Kirsten took charge for the first time.

Kirsten was another of the notable changes to the Pakistan setup that included the appointments of Simon Helmot and David Reid as fielding coach and mental performance coach, ahead of the June 1-29 World Cup in the West Indies and United States.

One of Kirsten's first tasks will be to streamline training after an ill-fated boot camp in a military academy in March and April preceded a worrying string of injuries, with players such as Azam Khan, Mohammad Rizwan and Irfan Niazi all sidelined.

However, the South African coach believes he can get the 2022 runners-up back on track.

"These are indeed thrilling times for Pakistan cricket, with a new administration and players who are driven to deliver solid results," said Kirsten, who comes with vast experience having guided India to 50-overs World Cup success in 2011.

"The upcoming T20 World Cup presents a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our skills and uphold Pakistan's legacy as a formidable force in cricket.

"However, success will require collective effort, meticulous planning and unwavering support for one another."

Pakistan belatedly named their 15-member squad for the tournament and included pacer Haris Rauf, who has recovered from a shoulder injury that had kept him out since February.

Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Saim Ayub and Usman Khan were all picked to play their maiden T20 World Cup in an otherwise experienced squad.

Pakistan are in Group A of the World Cup and begin their campaign against the U.S. on June 6. They will then take on arch-rivals India in one of the event's highly-anticipated matches three days later.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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