Haris Sohail, the Pakistan middle-order batsman, said it was important for his team to focus on getting used to conditions during the five one-day internationals in England before the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 gets under way.
Of the overseas teams, Pakistan are at the greatest advantage in terms of adapting to conditions for the World Cup as they will be facing hosts England, the No.1 team on the MRF Tyres ICC Men's ODI Team Rankings, in an ODI series days before the World Cup begins on 30 May.
Counting the sole Twenty20 International and the World Cup warm-up matches to follow, Pakistan will end up playing close to 10 matches before the World Cup starts, and want to make it count.
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"The World Cup is still a little while away," said Sohail. "Before that, we have a very important series against England. England is a quality side, the No.1 team. If we win that series, we'll get a great deal of help in getting used to those conditions. We still have about 10 matches to go before the World Cup if you count all the practice matches. So we're hopeful of getting acclimatised well and producing good results at the World Cup."
On a personal note, Sohail is enjoying great form and will hope to take that into the showpiece event. He goes into the England series on the back of two centuries against Australia in UAE.
"Since the Australia series, my confidence and form is in a good place," Haris said. "Over the past few days, I wasn't feeling too great, but a match situation is different, and the [practice] match we played today, the ball felt great on the bat."
Despite Haris Sohail scoring 291 runs at 72.75 in that series against Australia, Pakistan conceded each of the five ODIs. Some felt that part of the reason for the repeated failures was the inability of batsmen to score quickly enough. There have been concerns that the team are falling behind in that area, but Sohail downplayed those doubts.
"Cricket is a different game nowadays," Haris said. "Now, when your No.3 or 4 plays a big innings or gets a hundred, batsmen play around him. In ODI cricket, a total above 300 is now par. Not in the UAE, where pitches are slower and you need to take more time. But definitely that applies in countries like England. So over there, you'll see us play more aggressively."
Babar Azam, Pakistan's middle-order star, is known for his more classically styled shots along the ground, but he too feels he is equipped to go big when the situation demands that of him.
"If I can be No.1 in the world [on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings for batting] without power hitting, then I don't need power hitting," he said. "But when I need to, I utilise it well. I don't just play along the ground. I practice hitting the ball big and when needed, I use it. My role is to play out the full overs. My individual role is to take the innings as deep as I can and perform in a way that benefits the team most of all."
Pakistan's series against England will start with a one-off T2OI in Cardiff on 5 May and the all-important ODI series will begin on 8 May.
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