LAHORE   -   Pakistan cricket team captain Sarfraz Ahmad and head coach Mickey Arthur have said that the national team is fully prepared for the ICC World Cup and is capable enough to win the next month’s mega cricketing event.

“Definitely, it is going to a tough venture for the team, which will prove to be a test of potential and abilities of the players but we have faith in the players and in their abilities to live up to the expectations to win the World Cup,” they said this during a joint press conference held here at Gaddafi Stadium on Monday.

Pakistan team has left for England, where it will play a series against hosts to fully warm for the mega event. The national team skipper said that the stage has come that all the players of the squad must showcase their talent and technique in a brilliant way to inspire the team to success. He termed the team a best combination of players, who have trained and worked really hard to be in right frame of mind and physique to demonstrate a higher level game in the grand event.

“I would say that it is a well-balanced squad comprising ambitious players who have the ability to turn the tables on their opponents by performing in their respective departments of the game. Being a captain, I am confident that they will duly justify in their respective role during the series against England and in the World Cup,” he added.

Sarfraz said Prime Minister Imran Khan honoured the players and encouraged them by inviting them to the Prime Minister House and gave useful tips to motivate the team to perform better in the World Cup. “We are thankful to the Prime Minister for lifting the morale of the players ahead of the mega event and definitely, it is going to add to the confidence of the players,” said the skipper.

He said the PM urged the players that whatever result may be, they must exhibit prowess in their play, setting aside the factor of loss. “As a captain, it is my wish to follow the footprint of our Prime Minister, who in the role of the Pakistan cricket captain, led the team to glory of winning the 1992 cup in Australia,” he said.

Sarfraz and Mickey said that the team has worked really hard over the past two years and players have to bring out all capabilities to produce results in teams favour. They defended the inclusion of Yasir Shah as a replacement for Shadab Khan, who has been ruled out of the England series due to a virus-related illness, saying, “it was a like-for-like replacement.. We are expecting a lot from Yasir to be a useful part of the team in the role of a key spinner.”

Sarfraz rejected a questioner that his input was not taken while finalizing the world cup squad. “I was fully involved in the team’s selection. If needed, we can change the batting order in the World Cup and I will be batting at number five and veteran batsman Shoiab Malik coming at number six.”

The skipper said that Pak-India matches are always full of excitement and thrill and his team is fully determined to strike a win against India in the world cup outing. “It is not only one important match of the World Cup, rather every match of the mega event is very important for us and we will be going all-out against our respective rivals, no matter whom we are playing and how fancied they are,” said Sarfraz.

Head coach praised the talent and batting skills of Babar Azam and termed him a key player to lift the performance of the team by piling up runs with responsible batting. He also pinned hopes with former captains Shoaib Malik and Muhammad Hafeez and said they can be useful with their batting abilities and also in the role of part-time bowlers.

He urged the players to play attacking and quality cricket to put their opponents under pressure. “A lot is expected from said Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq who could be the preferred openers and Abid Ali will be batting at number three position. I think it is a good combination to strengthen our batting.

“We have set our targets in the World Cup, as our first aim will be to qualify for the semifinals and to achieve this objective, we have to perform to a higher level.”

Sarfraz said pace bowler Muhammad Amir still stands a chance to be a part of the national team for the World Cup, if he performs well in the series against England and regains his lost form and speed. “We are not banking upon the talent of any individual player and we are hoping that all players of the team will prove as ‘trump cards’ by excelling in their respective departments of the game,” said Sarfraz.

He said bowlers Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi are in good form while Junaid Khan is also bowling good and Faheem Arhraf has also improved in pace bowling, so a lot is expected from the pace battery of Pakistan team in the World Cup.