LAHORE: Pakistan's cricket chief on Wednesday backed Misbahul Haq as one-day captain, saying he would lead the side to next year's World Cup. Chief selector Moin Khan on Tuesday hinted at a possible change of one-day captain, saying discussions were in progress and if there was a consensus, a change could be made. But Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi gave his support to Misbah, who has led the side in 71 one-day internationals since taking over in May 2011, winning 39 of them. "I stand by my decision to retain Misbah as captain until the World Cup," Sethi said.
Australia and New Zealand will co-host the 11th World Cup in February-March next year. Misbah, who turns 40 next month, has long faced criticism for his defensive approach as a leader, despite leading Pakistan to seven one-day series wins last year - a record for the country in a 12-month period. He is also Pakistan's Test captain, having led them in 27 Tests, with 12 wins, seven defeats and eight draws. "Whatever the personal views of any of the selectors regarding who should be the captain, I am firm on my decision," said Sethi. "Misbah has performed very well in both one-dayers and Tests and is one of the fittest players in the team," said Sethi of Misbah, who scored 1,373 runs in 2013 - the most in the world.
Fitness is to be a key focus for the side as they prepare for the World Cup, which Pakistan won in 1992, Moin said on Tuesday. Fellow selector Mohammad Akram said the condition of all the players would be closely monitored and anyone missing targets will be fined. Despite Sethi's support, Misbah will remain under pressure, given Pakistan's history of sacking captains and coaches after poor performances.
Mohammad Hafeez, sensing he would be sacked, resigned the captaincy after Pakistan failed to reach the semifinal of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh earlier this month. Pakistan Tuesday announced 36 probables for a training camp starting in Lahore from May 6. They will tour Sri Lanka for two Tests and three one-days in late July. Pakistan will also play Australia and New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates in November-December before touring New Zealand for a short one-day series in January ahead of the World Cup.
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