After Zimbabwe rout, Ashraf eyes success in Asia Cup

All-rounder believes series will prove helpful in preparing for tough series in the future

After Zimbabwe rout, Ashraf eyes success in Asia Cup PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraf is focused on the team’s upcoming challenges after securing a relatively comfortable series win against Zimbabwe.

Ashraf’s five-wicket haul in the third ODI on Wednesday eased Pakistan past the hosts in Bulawayo in the third ODI on Wednesday.

"We are playing keeping the Asia Cup in mind where we have to play India and other strong teams” said Ashraf in a press conference following the match.  “After that, we have to play Australia and New Zealand. We are keeping the World Cup in focus as well.”

The 24-year-old, who has represented Pakistan in three Tests, 11 ODIs and 17 T20Is, further went on to credit bowling coach Azhar Mahmood for helping him improve in the bowling department.

“A lot of credit for my first five-wicket haul in ODIs goes to Azhar Mahmood,” he said. “He has been extremely helpful by giving confidence and making me a better bowler.”

Ashraf also stressed on the importance of hitting the right line and length by saying that: "I try to hit the right areas and bowl stump to stump.”

Despite the beleaguered performances from the home side during the ODI series, Ashraf felt that no team in world cricket is weak and the Men in Green play every match with the same intensity.

“This Zimbabwe team is a good team as no international team is weak,” he said. “We are playing these matches in the same manner as we would play matches against Australia, England or New Zealand."

Speaking about his lack of opportunities with the bat, Ashraf said that he was set to bat higher up the order but the batsmen did really well to deny him any opportunity with the bat.

"In the previous two matches, I was padded up to come in at number four but our team is doing so well, so I just didn’t had the chance," he said. "Since we came to Zimbabwe, our focus is on playing each and every game with the same intensity. If we are leading 3-0 or 4-0, we don't want to become lazy and we want to play every match with a high level of intensity.”

He added: "In cricket you can't take any team lightly regardless of their ranking. If Zimbabwe are losing 3-0, then they will try to come back hard in the 4th match.”

Pakistan have enjoyed a consistently good run of form in all formats of the game in the past 12 months or so and Ashraf believes that the reason behind that is the well-knit nature of the side which aids their ability to perform well as a unit.

"It's true that we are a very close team and we back each other all the time,” he said. “Since the Champions Trophy, we play as one unit and are happy with each other's performances; which is one of the reasons why we are winning matches in all formats," he said.

Pakistan will face Zimbabwe in the fourth match of the ODI series on Friday July 20 at Bulawayo, while the final match of the series will be played at the same venue on July 22.