CARDIFF, Wales: Buoyed up by their much-needed Champions Trophy win against world number one South Africa last Wednesday, Pakistan checked into Sophia Gardens for a training session with renewed confidence.
Looking to beat Sri Lanka in Monday’s Pool B game and secure a place in the ICC Champions Trophy last-four, Pakistan seemed brimming with confidence as they trained hard under grey skies and cold conditions here on Friday.
Their training schedule was revised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) because of bad weather and the players came to Sophia Garden in the afternoon instead of 10:30 am as earlier planned.
Instead of staying in the Cardiff city centre, the Pakistani players have been accommodated by the event’s organisers at a scenic golf resort that is located more than 30 minutes drive from the venue.
The Pakistan team checked in at the Vales Golf Resort after arriving in Wales from Birmingham on Thursday.
“It’s a lovely place but the only thing is that the commuting time to the stadium is longer as compared to the hotels in the city centre,” a team official told ‘The News’.
The Vale Golf Resort at Hensol Park in Glamorgan has two exception golf courses. Unfortunately, no player in the current Pakistan team has any interest in golf. In the past, several Pakistani cricketers including Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Aamir Sohail took an active interest in golf. Former Pakistan captain Salim Malik is said to be an exceptional golfer.
For the current lot, however, the game of golf holds no appeal.
The players, with their sights set on the game against Sri Lanka, were seen busy carrying out a marathon training session. There was lot of intensity as the players carried out a series of drills.
“They know the importance of the upcoming game,” a team official said. “Their morale is high after the win against South Africa and we are all sure that the boys will give their best against Sri Lanka.”
They will have to.
Sri Lankan exhibited their batting prowess by chasing down a record victory target of 322 against India in a must-win game at The Oval on Thursday.
Pakistan’s game against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Monday is virtual semi-final with the winning team confirming its spot in the tournament’s semi-finals.
Pakistan, meanwhile, have been boosted by the arrival of fast bowler Rumman, Raees who has replaced the injured Wahab Riaz in the squad. Wahab was ruled out of the Champions Trophy because of an ankle injury after the 124-run loss against India last Sunday.
Rumman, who has played two Twenty20 Internationals but is yet to feature in an ODI, was one of the success stories of Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). In 42 first-class matches, he has picked up 123 wickets.
The pacer bowled in the nets on Friday but is unlikely to be a part of the playing eleven in the match against Sri Lanka.
Pakistan might keep their inning combination for Monday’s game though a team official said that a final decision on the playing line-up will only be made after taking a long, hard look at the wicket and playing conditions.