ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistani parliamentarians cricket team left for England to take part in the 1st Inter-Parliamentary Cricket World Cup, to be held in England from July 8 to 15.

Pakistani MPs team skipper Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi has already reached UK a day earlier along with Ayed Ali Murtaza and Syed Ali Mustafa, while Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, Imran Khattak along with coach Ayaz Akbar and a few others left from Islamabad on Friday, while vice captain Ali Zahid, Ali Awan, MPA Abbas Jafari and a few others will depart on Sunday.

Talking to The Nation on Friday just before takeoff, Ali Amin Gandapur said: “It is heartbreaking that Pakistan cricket team failed to qualify for the ICC World Cup semifinals, but we will try to give the nation gift of lifting the Parliamentarians World Cup. I know the Indians have services of world cricketers, but we are focused on task ahead. We know our strengths and weaknesses and we want to deliver for our team and country.

“For last two months, we have trained very hard under the watchful eyes and able coaching of Sabih Azhar, Taimoor Azam and Ayaz Akbar. They improved our fielding, batting, bowling and also gave us perfect shape. This team is representing Pakistan, not certain parties, as we have representation of all parties and we are very hopeful that all the selected players, who get the chance to play, will help the national cause and give more than 100 percent and leave the rest,” he added.

Sharing his views, coach Ayaz Akbar said: “I tried my best to pass on all the knowledge and skills to the players. They are good enough to stand realistic chances of beating any given side. If they play according to their strength, no one can beat them. They have to hold on to catches and work mainly on improving fielding, while they have some top class batsmen, who can provide solid stand and the middle order is the secret weapon of our team. We have some very fine hard hitters, who can single-handedly help the team win matches.”

Former Pakistan U-19 player and ex-skipper of Karachi Region MPA Abbas Jafri said: “I am enjoying the best form of my life. I have played in USA and won man-of-the-tournament award. I had been winning man-of-the-match awards in the last four matches in running against different opponents in the practice matches, we played in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. I had played in England and know the conditions there. If captain and senior team members take my suggestions seriously, it will help Pakistan team great deal. We have to play first match on July 9 against hosts England and it will decide our direction. We will enter all guns blazing and try to give perfect start to our campaign.”

He said: “We have to improve our fielding as our batting is good enough, while bowling is at par to what others have. Off course, we don’t have super stars like Indians are bringing, but it will be extra-motivational for us. I will try to give my 200 percent, as I am fully aware that Pakistan MPs team badly depends on the good start to be provided by me alongside Ali Zahid. We have likes of Ali Awan, Ali Amin, Mustafa and Murtaza, who can play lofty strokes and can help the team post a massive total in the later stages. We don’t have unplayable bowlers, but for this type of cricket, we have everything, which can prove to be the difference among other teams,” Abbas concluded.

Team vice captain Ali Zahid said: “We are taking part in the event with aim of winning it for our nation. We have prepared well and now it is time to test our skills and potential.

We have combination of youth and experience and we have lot of match-winners in the side. If we play accordingly, control our emotions, field well and hold on to catches on offer, we will return with the trophy.

“I would like to thank against to our coaches, IRCA President Shakil Shaikh, PCB and especially National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, as without his involvement, backing, presence and dedication, we could not even think about participation, winning was far cry. I request all to pray for our success so that we may return with World Cup, Ali Zahid concluded.