Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood ordered his seamers to unleash the short stuff in today’s final nets session in preparation for a predicted onslaught from England at Trent Bridge.
Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side found it tough under a hostile barrage from the West Indies in their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup opener – and can expect more of the same from the hosts when they clash in Nottingham on Monday.
However, Azhar insists Pakistan’s top order will be fully prepared – and in no mood to make the same mistake twice.
“We didn’t handle the short ball well but we know all the teams will bowl that against us. When you come from the subcontinent, you can expect these tactics,” said Azhar.
“It was disappointing and we have to move on. We had the same issue in South Africa but we managed the short ball really well over there in the Test and one-day series.
“I thought we mixed our pace really well when we played England at Headingley last month and we’ve got bowlers who can do the same thing to their batters too.”
Azhar, who played three World Cups for Pakistan, knows English cricket well after long spells with Surrey and Kent.
He admits the hosts – convincing winners over South Africa in their tournament opener – will start favourites, especially as Pakistan come into the match on the back of 11 consecutive defeats in completed matches.
But he also stresses there is no cause for panic, taking particular satisfaction from Mohammad Amir’s return to form, after he took three wickets against Jason Holder’s side.
“We are one game away from coming back. We lost our first game in the Champions Trophy two years ago and won. We lost the first game in the World Cup in 1992 and won,” Azhar added.
“We know England have ability and skill and the best batting line-up but we can beat them, it wouldn’t be that big an upset. We know what England can do but we are up for the challenge.
“We’ve lost 11 games in a row but we rested eight or nine players against Australia and we were experimenting with younger, inexperienced players. We lost four games against England but we were not far away, we just need to handle the crucial moments better.
“I’m hearing people talking about a 480 or 500 score on this wicket, England must play 300 deliveries brilliantly to score that and we just need ten good deliveries, this bowling line-up has the ability to bowl England out for under 300.
“As a team we have always shown the ability to bounce back in big tournaments and I totally believe in this team and these guys.
“It won’t be an easy ride, it’s a long tournament and it will be a rollercoaster.”