Abu Dhabi - Pakistan's one-day skipper Azhar Ali insisted on
Thursday that his fast developing team is well set to qualify directly for the
2019 World Cup.
Pakistan whitewashed the West Indies 3-0 with a convincing
136-run win in the third and final one-dayer in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The series win lifted Pakistan one place to eighth in the
current rankings and relegating the West Indies to ninth in the fight for a
direct berth at the World Cup finals in three years' time.
Hosts England and the top seven teams in the one-day
rankings on September 30 next year will get a direct place in the World Cup.
The bottom four teams in the standings will be joined by six
Associate sides in a 10-team qualifying round in 2018 from where only two teams
Ali said the win over West Indies was important in the quest
for a World Cup place.
"It was an important series and it's just the start of
more challenges," said Ali.
"We have to keep this improvement with one year to go
for the (World Cup 2019) deadline."
Since the 2015 World Cup, Pakistan had slumped to ninth
after being routed 3-0 in Bangladesh and suffering defeats against England (in
the United Arab Emirates last year and in England) and New Zealand.
But Ali believes the confidence level of the players was
high after the series win over the struggling West Indies.
"We have good players who have gelled well," said
Ali, who singled out batsman Babar Azam for his three successive hundreds.
"Babar (Azam) stood out in this series and to score
consistently with back-to-back hundreds shows that he has that hunger. He has
given a world class performance," said Ali of the 21-year-old.
Azam scored 120, 123 and 117 in the three matches to become
only the third Pakistani and eighth batsmen in all one-day cricket to hit three
Ali credited new head coach Mickey Arthur with the
"Mickey has an important role," said Ali of the
former South African and Australian coach who took over in May this year.
"It's a full team and the credit also goes to the
selection committee, fielding coach Steve Rixon, physio Grant Luden and
(batting coach) Grant Flower - all have contributed a lot so it's a full
Pakistan's next one-day series will be in Australia early
next year and Ali feels his team has the potential to do well.
"We can challenge Australia as well because we have new
players who are match winners."