Haris, Babar play down power-hitting concerns

Monitoring Desk

LAHORE: With the World Cup so close Pakistan have named their preliminary squad for the tournament, it is striking to hear a cricketer talk about the event as just another competition organised some distance out into the future. But Haris Sohail, named among the 15 who will attempt to win Pakistan’s second World Cup trophy, approaches the next couple of months in precisely that frame of mind. For now, he is not thinking of the World Cup; his focus lasered in on the series against England prior.

“The World Cup is still a little while away,” Haris, one of two Pakistan players who were also part of the 2015 World Cup campaign, told reporters during a press gathering at the Gaddafi Stadium. “Before that, we have a very important series against England. England is a quality side, the number one team. If we win that series, we’ll get a great deal of help in getting used to those conditions. We still have about 10 matches to go before the World Cup if you count all the practice matches. So we’re hopeful of getting acclimatised well and producing good results at the World Cup.”

For Haris, that short-term focus makes perfect sense. The left-hander’s career has been blighted by a chronic knee injury for the best part of the last half decade, forcing him to miss several whole seasons over this period. The latest frustrating setback came on the morning of the first Test against South Africa on December 26, forcing him to miss that whole tour and putting his World Cup berth in serious jeopardy. It took scoring two hundreds against Australia, in a series where he was Pakistan’s leading run-scorer, to secure him a plane ticket to England.

“Since the Australia series, my confidence and form is in a good place,” Haris said. “Over the past few days, I wasn’t feeling too great, but a match situation is different, and the [practice] match we played today, the ball felt great on the bat.

“What happened to me was I was operated on incorrectly, and I struggle because of that. Nobody wants to live through injuries, but as a sportsman, injuries do happen in cricket. Here, the media makes a big deal of injuries. If you look at Australia, every two series, one bowler or another is unfit. I bowl too, so please keep that in mind. I’m trying to complete my rehab properly and put my injury behind me once and for all. But because it was operated upon incorrectly, I do struggle with it sometimes.”