Dubai: Mickey Arthur, Pakistan's head coach, on Tuesday said he could not fault the way Umar Akmal has returned to the team for the series against Australia, but the batsman needs to better his fitness to be in reckoning for the World Cup.
“I cannot sit here and fault the way he has come into the team, the way he has prepared, he has been very good. He has done a good job while being in this environment. He knows the standings are to be in this environment to be in contention for a berth going forward. I cannot fault his attitude," International Cricket Council (ICC) quoted Arthur as saying.
Akmal has made his return to the team after two years. However the coach feels that the fitness of the batsman still remains an area for improvement, and he needs to pass the fitness test to be eligible for selection in the World Cup.
"The fitness has got better but he has work to do in fitness. The fitness test is on April 14 and to be eligible to go for the World Cup, you need to pass that fitness test," Arthur said.
Pakistan currently trails Australia 2-0 in the series. However, Arthur feels that the series was meant for testing Pakistan's reserves and they will continue with the experimentation to assess their World Cup squad.
"We always get castigated for not trying new players and now we are getting castigated for giving opportunities to new players. I think people need to understand that we are a very passionate team," Arthur said.
“The guys that we have brought in here, their attitudes have been outstanding. I think we have got to realise that we have players who are of the international level; the chaps that are here are very good cricketers and will become very good cricketers. We are trying to increase the depth of Pakistan cricket," he added.
Pakistan takes on Australia in the third ODI of the five-match series on Wednesday, March 27 at Abu Dhabi....