Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik has begun his era at the helm of the team by targeting the next World Cup that will be held in the subcontinent. Malik got his first taste of the action as he practiced at the Gaddafi Stadium with the probables for the Abu Dhabi series against Sri Lanka in May.
"Our real target is the next World Cup and we have to do everything to ensure the boys ready for that," said Malik while talking to reporters after the training session.
Talking on the first day of the camp, Malik emphasised that the series in Abu Dhabi will provide a good chance for the youngsters to perform in the absence of experienced players and stake their claims on a permanent place in the team.
"The series is not so important and it allows us to give a lot of youngsters the chance to get some experience on the international scene," Malik said while obviously feeling the absence of Inzamam-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. "The absence of two key players will be felt but no player is irreplaceable and hopefully we will find players who can come and perform and fill the void that exists."
When asked if he had the backing of senior members of the team, amid rumours that there exists a falling-out in the team over the appointment of a young captain, Malik assured that all was indeed good. "I have spoken to Younis Khan and Shoaib Akhtar and they have assured me of their full support."
Malik placed special emphasis on the team's weakest area, fielding, and welcomed the arrival of a specialist coach for that area of concern. "Our fielding has been very poor in the past and obviously we need to work extra hard to improve that. The arrival of a baseball coach to work on that is a good idea and I am sure we will benefit a lot from him."
The squad will train at the Gaddafi Stadium till May 4 and the 15-man squad for the three-match ODI series is expected to be announced on May 6.