The Pakistan team train against the picturesque hills of Abbottabad © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
Pakistan’s six-day conditioning camp ahead of the Champions Trophy began on Friday in Abbottabad. On the opening day at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium, the team had a two-hour session, spending most of it in physical and fielding drills.
The stadium is at an altitude of 1260 metres above sea level, surrounded by hills, and the players wanted to ensure they acclimatised themselves with the conditions first. The forecast suggests that temperature will stay pleasant through the day, but could drop to single figures at night.
“The mood is pretty good here,” Dav Whatmore, the Pakistan head coach, told reporters. “We are very keen to extract as much as we can in the six days by training in the conditions, which are similar to where we are going to play much of our cricket in the next two months.
“We decided to come to Abbottabad, with its obviously cooler conditions, as it’s very warm in Lahore at the moment. We have also prepared pitches with grass on them to try and simulate conditions like those in England. While one cannot recreate it exactly, this is the best we have.”
The day started with fielding drills as Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Asad Shafiq had a rigorous slip-catching session while rest of the players went through regular fielding practice. There wasn’t much bowling as the groundstaff worked on preparing the centre pitches for batting practice on Saturday.
Except Junaid Khan, all players picked for the Champions Trophy arrived for the camp, while five emerging fast bowlers were also called in to train with the national squad. Junaid, who lives in Swabi, about two hours away from Abbottabad, is expected to join the squad on Saturday.
Thirty minutes into the camp, Javed Miandad made an appearance. He said he was there to motivate players and had come on the request of the PCB chairman.
One of the sidelights of the day was the race between Nasir Jamshed and Saeed Ajmal. The usual sprinting drill was amusingly converted to a competition between the two, with the 35-year-old Ajmal beating the 23-year-old Jamshed by a big distance, leaving the latter out of breath.