Shoaib Malik, Pakistan captain, denied he would be nervous as he tries to rebuild his beleaguered side after a disastrous World Cup.
Malik spoke ahead of Pakistan's departure on Wednesday night for Abu Dhabi for a three-match one-day international series against Sri Lanka.
"I am not nervous at all," Malik said. "I know the season ahead is difficult but I will live up to the confidence placed in me by the Pakistan Cricket Board and the fans. I am confident that all the players will work hard to put the team back on a winning track and forget what happened in the World Cup," added Malik, who has played 18 Tests and 137 one-dayers.
The games against Sri Lanka on May 18, 20 and 22 are Pakistan's first assignment since crashing out in the first round of the World Cup in March after losing to minnows Ireland. Coach Bob Woolmer was also found dead at the team hotel in Jamaica the day after the defeat. Jamaican police insist he was murdered despite reports that Woolmer died of a heart attack. Pakistan's humiliating exit forced burly Inzamam-ul-Haq to relinquish the captaincy and quit one-day cricket. Malik replaced Inzamam as captain after senior player Younis Khan refused to take over.
Pakistan have yet to find a replacement for Woolmer and manager Talat Ali, a former Test opener, will supervise the coaching during the Abu Dhabi series. The 25-year-old Malik said Pakistan, the 1992 World Cup champions, were determined to forget the last edition of the tournament. "Whatever happened in the past is now past and the best thing about this current team is that all the senior players are very co-operative and once we win the morale of the team will go up," he said.
Malik admitted that Pakistan would have to be on top form to win against Sri Lanka, who lost to Australia in a farcical World Cup final. "Sri Lanka are a formidable team and even without [Muthiah] Muralitharan, [Chaminda] Vaas and [Kumar] Sangakkara [all not in Sri Lanka team due to their county commitments] we will have to be at our best to beat them," he said. Pakistan would also be tested by their rigorous coming season, he said.
"We have a tough season ahead in which we face South Africa, India and Australia so we must shape up quickly and all the players are experienced and know what it takes to become world's best side," said Malik.
Pakistan feature in the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in September before hosting South Africa in October. They tour India in November-December and then host Australia early next year.