Top international sides get set for maiden Doha event

 10 Jan 2014 - 3:30

Captains of South Africa, Pakistan and Ireland are joined by Mana Al Mana (fourth right) Chairman West End Park, Syed Bobby Refaie (right), Executive Director, Pakistan Super League,  Malik Farooq (third right), Charge d’affaires, Pakistan Embassy and Saad Cachalia (third left) Ambassador of South Africa, in Doha, yesterday.PICTURES: ABDUL BASIT

DOHA: World Cup-bound Pakistan are ‘well prepared’ for the inaugural tri-nation starting at Doha’s brand new cricket stadium, team coach Mohtashem Rasheed said yesterday. 
Pakistan have been joined by cricket powerhouse South Africa and Ireland for the tri-nation which will be followed by a T20 series at the same venue. 
All three sides are in Group A of the 10-team T20 World Cup to be held in Bangladesh in March.
Sana Mir-led Pakistan take on Ireland in a day and night encounter starting at 1pm today 
“We have arrived well prepared. We had a great time at a two-week training camp in Karachi under lights. We have worked in all areas knowing that we need to keep training at all times,” Rasheed said at West End Park Stadium. 
“I think the girls have coped well in their first training session here in Doha. The outfield looks a bit heavy but we will find out more about it once we field here,” Rasheed added. 
Rasheed said Pakistan’s strength lies in bowling.
“Our strength is bowling. In the last few series, we have seen the bowlers doing really well,” Rasheed said. 
“I would also say that the girls have improved their batting a great deal also. Overall the improvement in all departments is satisfactory,” Rasheed, who has been with the team for three years, said.
When asked about women’s cricket, Rasheed said the game’s governing body in Pakistan was investing heavily to improve the infrastructure in the country.
“We have a group of about 40 girls who are getting great attention from the coaches and backroom staff.  We get great support from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). The PCB has improved the women’s game at the grass-roots level,” he said. 
Rasheed said two weeks in Doha would help Pakistan prepare for the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.
“We are thrilled to be here for this event. We feel we are getting sufficient match-practice before the T20 World Cup. That’s why we are here. We are getting matches to play against top sides. We played against England and Ireland during our summer trip to England last July. We beat Ireland in all games,” Rasheed said. “We have played against South Africa also. 
“We have beaten them. I have noticed that our girls have improved a lot. The girls have adapted well to the pitch here. 
“We said ‘yes’ to this event because we knew we are just weeks away from the World Cup. We are also in the process of arranging a separate warm-up series against Bangladesh in Bangladesh,” the coach said.
“This bunch has been together for a few years now. The back-up strength is also good. I only get good vibes about this bunch.
“We are hopeful that we could have a cricket series here on an annual basis. The more we play the better we get,” Rasheed said.
Prior to arriving in Doha, Pakistan captain Sana Mir said the team was eager to get match-practice ahead of the T20 World Cup. 
“This is a great opportunity for the players to show their worth,” Sana Mir was quoted as saying in a report. “The selection for World T20 will be based on their performance in upcoming tournaments and the players must realise the importance of this assignment.”
Sana Mir said playing under lights in Doha would not be an issue.
“For the first time we got the opportunity of playing under lights at the National Stadium (in Karachi) and that will help us since all the matches will be day-night affairs (in Doha),” she said. THE PENINSULA