Pakistan beginning to find its feet again, says ODI skipper Azhar

SHARJAH: Skipper Azhar Ali feels Pakistan is beginning to click in every department and is on the path to reviving its fortunes in the game’s limited-overs format.

“Fitness levels are also going up, so we have started to tick the boxes,” Azhar, who leads Pakistan in One-Day Internationals, said.

Azhar’s side registered a 111-run victory under Duckworth-Lewis rules over the West Indies in the first of the three-match series in Sharjah on Friday.

“It was a wonderful team effort and the last few games have been good for us. We are trying to find the right combination and bat deep, which is very important in one-day cricket.”

Read: Pakistan need a ‘300’

Babar Azam’s rapid-fire 139-ball 120 helped Pakistan post a challenging 284 for nine in a match reduced to 49 overs a side due to a 70-minute floodlight failure.

West Indies, set 287 to win (D/L), never got close and folded at 175 in 38.4 overs.

“The ball wasn’t coming on in the afternoon, but Sarfraz (Ahmed), Babar (Azam) and Sharjeel (Khan) gave us a good score.

“Limited-overs cricket is always a young man’s game and it’s heartening to see younger players taking on the role of match-winners,” the 31-year-old Pakistan captain said in a post-match talk.

Read: ‘Pakistan need attacking middle-order batsman’

Azhar said Pakistan’s dressing room discussions always emphasised on “going out with the right attitude in every game” and hoped his side “continues to do that”.

“We’re focusing on improving ourselves, playing good cricket. We know what areas we need to improve on, coaching staff is working on it.

“We can win more games if we keep improving and our ranking will also improve.”

The second match will also be played in Sharjah, on Sunday, while the third will be in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Pakistan and the West Indies are fighting for an automatic place in the 2019 World Cup.

Read: Pakistan are No.9 in ODIs because they deserve it

Pakistan, the 1992 champions, need to win the series 3-0 to rise one place from ninth while their opponents — champions in the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979 — need to avoid a clean sweep to maintain their current eighth spot.

Hosts England and the seven highest-ranked sides in the one-day rankings on September 30 next year will qualify directly for the World Cup.

The bottom four teams in the standings will be joined by six Associate sides in a 10-team qualifying round in 2018 from where two teams will qualify.

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