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29 November 2023

Pakistan cricketers embark on World Cup mission

Pakistani cricket captain Misbah-ul Haq arrives to join with his team for photographs on January 20, 2015 before the team's departure for New Zealand. (AFP)


Pakistan cricket team left on a World Cup mission Tuesday with their first destination New Zealand where they play two one-day internationals before taking part in the mega event.

Paceman Junaid Khan had to pull out hours before departure because of a leg injury and was replaced by another fast bowler Bilawal Bhatti who will depart in the next couple of days.

Bhatti will play the two ODIs but the team remains hopeful that Junaid will recover in time to take part in the World Cup. In the event that he doesn't, Bhatti is likely to replace him.

Skipper Misbah-ul Haq said his team will do its best to win the World Cup.

"We will do our best," said Misbah at the send-off ceremony at the national cricket academy.

"We should not think of results, win or lose: the focus should be to play at our best."

Pakistan will play two one-day internationals against New Zealand on January 31 and February 3 before playing their first match against arch-rivals and defending champions India at Adelaide on February 15.

Misbah said all matches are important but his team will do its best to break the jinx against India whom Pakistan have never beaten in any of their five previous World Cup matches.

"All matches are important but the desire is to beat India and we want to play it with full heart and passion and break that trend," said Misbah.

Manager Naveed Cheema said the team will do its best to win the Cup.

"This team is a blend of youth and experience and has prepared well for the event and are going with high spirits and will to win," said Cheema.

Pakistan is placed in group B of the 14-team event which kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on February 14.

Pakistan will also face the West Indies, Zimbabwe, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Ireland in the first round.

India, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Scotland and Bangladesh comprise group A.

Top four teams from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals.

The final is in Melbourne on March 29.