LAHORE: Pakistan's coach Waqar Younis expressed confidence the cricket squad would achieve targets in Tests and one-day series as they set off for a tour of Sri Lanka on Monday.
Pakistan will play three Tests, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20s on their 53-day tour of Sri Lanka, with the aim of qualifying for the 2017 Champions Trophy in England.
Pakistan, currently ninth in one-day rankings, must beat Sri Lanka to get to the eighth spot or better before the September 30 cut off date for the Champions Trophy, which will feature the top eight teams.
Waqar said he believed the team would reach the Champions Trophy.
“We have set targets for Tests as well as one-day series and hope that the team does well on the tour to achieve the targets and I am confident that we will qualify for the Champions Trophy,” Waqar told AFP.
Since Waqar took over in June last year, Pakistan had lost five one-day series before beating Zimbabwe at home 2-0 last month — a series which revived international cricket in Pakistan after six years.
“As a coach there is always pressure on you, it's there even when you are winning. Unfortunately we have lost five series but you must consider a lot of factors – the biggest of them all was losing Saeed Ajmal,” said Waqar of the ace spinner not selected for the Tests against Sri Lanka.
Waqar said both Pakistan and Sri Lanka are in the rebuilding phase.
“They (Sri Lanka) lost some of their senior players and we have also lost some seniors so it will take time to rebuild the one-day teams but a tour to Sri Lanka is always tough,” said Waqar.
Pakistan lost Misbah-ul–Haq and Shahid Afridi while Sri Lanka saw Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara quit one-day cricket — all retiring after the 2015 World Cup in April.
Pakistan open the Sri Lanka tour with a three-day warm-up match in Colombo from June 11 before the first Test starts in Galle on June 17. –AFP