ISLAMABAD: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq believes his team is mentally stronger after defeats in South Africa and ready for next month’s Champions Trophy in England.
South Africa swept Pakistan 3-0 in the Test series but Misbah’s team proved tougher opposition in the one-day series before losing it 3-2.
“Our players benefited from playing tough cricket in tough South African conditions and that helps you to get mentally more focused for difficult conditions,” Misbah said on Wednesday.
The team’s six-day training camp ended on Wednesday in the northern town of Abbottabad, and included team talks from former captains Wasim Akram and Javed Miandad.
Pakistan will play two ODIs each against Scotland and Ireland later this month before taking on West Indies, South Africa and India in their Champions Trophy Group B matches.
The Group A comprises defending champion Australia, England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) planned a short camp in the cool weather of Abbottabad to prepare for similar conditions in England during the eight-team competition, starting June 7.
“It’s (Abbottabad) at some height and a bit cooler too which helped us to get used to the conditions we might get in England,” he said.
Pakistan batsmen failed against the likes of South African fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander in Test matches and Misbah said his batsmen should focus more on improving their skills in Test matches.
“When you play lots of short versions of cricket you don’t get much stronger technically,” he said.
“We are all professionals ... when you prove yourself in Test cricket and technically your basics are strong, you have more chances to succeed in one-day cricket and T20 cricket.”
The selectors have dropped experienced batsman Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi for the Champions Trophy due to poor form and Misbah said such tough decisions had to be taken.
“It’s difficult when you play without your senior players but sometimes you have to take such decisions,” he said.
“We still have lot of match winners in the team, the way they have been performing recently.”
Misbah also said the players needed to pay more attention to fitness. “We are seeking improvement in fitness, at least close to the requirements of international cricket. We are not there yet but we are trying to hit the benchmark.”
Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore said it was difficult to predict their chances in the Champions Trophy.
“If we play to our potential we can put pressure on any team so that’s our goal, our goal is obviously to win it ... our goal is to do the best that we possibly can in every game that we play.”
Pakistan’s cricketers focused primarily on fitness and batting skills during the six-day training camp in Abbottabad.