We are closely observing England, SL series: Asad Shafiq

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LAHROE: Pakistan middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq rates his national side stronger than Sri Lanka and hopes Pakistan will get better results in England despite facing challenging situation there.

“The conditions are challenging for Pakistan in England but if you compare Sri Lanka with Pakistan you would find out that we are a better side as we have strong batsmen like Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq in our ranks.

“Our pacers are also capable of using English conditions in a better way to make things difficult for their batsmen,” Asad said before training started at the Gaddafi Stadium here on Wednesday, ahead of the tour of England, starting on June 17.

“We are watching the ongoing Test matches between England and Sri Lanka and marking their mistakes as it will help us prepare better,” Asad, who has played 41 Tests and 58 One-day Internationals, said.

To a question, Asad said he was not nervous about playing Test matches in England for the first time and pledged that he would try his best to play an important part for his side to win matches.

He said players were preparing with Duke balls, which are used in England, at the camp to get familiar with it.

The middle-order batsman, who has scored 2,597 runs in Test cricket at an impressive average of 43.28, said the fitness level of players has improved after attending a camp in Abbottabad and it would help them perform well in England.

Like team-mate Azhar Ali, Asad also hailed the role of Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq and praised him for maintaining fitness even at the age of 42.

To a question, Asad said he had been keeping his place in Test cricket for the last five years, which was a great achievement.

He added that though he was not a regular member of the ODI team, he always preferred to play his knock according to the format of the game and said that it was not easy to bat at the sixth position as one had to bat with tail-enders.

Asad, who has scored 1,318 runs in ODIs at an average of 25.34 while batting in the middle-order, said he was ready to bat at any position for the team.

He believed there would be more responsibility on fast bowlers as compared to spinners on seaming English tracks.

He admitted that Pakistan team was struggling in ODI and T20 formats but enjoying good ranking in Test cricket.

“Good performance in the Test series against England will have a good impact on Pakistan’s performance in ODI cricket too,” he maintained.

Meanwhile, manager of the camp former Test captain Intikhab Alam said the dates for head coach Micky Arthur’s arrival and issuance of England visa to Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir were not confirmed.

Intikhab added that Arthur was waiting to receive Australian passport after which he would convey his travelling plans to the PCB.

The camp is being ended on June 6 and it seems Arthur will not be able to reach Pakistan to spend any time in the camp.

Moreover, Intikhab said the Pakistan squad will be leaving for England on June 17.

To a question, Intikhab said though the visas of England for almost all the players had been obtained, the PCB was still waiting for Mohammad Amir’s visa. He said he was hopeful that the paceman would receive the visa soon.

The PCB applied for Amir’s visa separately after getting some assurances from the ECB.

Furthermore, Intikhab said Mohammad Hafeez’s fresh scanning report about his knee injury was showing improvement and now he would start his fitness training under the supervision of newly appointed physio Shane Hayes.

“We still have 15 days left to leave for England, so, I can’t rule out Hafeez’s inclusion in the squad,” Intikhab concluded.

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