Mirpur: Former stars Waqar Younis and Azhar Mahmood, as chief coach and bowling coach of the current Pakistan team, are seeking to take the country back to the glory days when it was a force to reckon with in world cricket. (Asia Cup 2016: Can’t Afford to Make Mistakes Against Stronger Teams, Says Shahid Afridi)
Along with Wasim Akram, Inzamam ul Haq, Saeed Anwar, Mohammed Yousuf and Ijaz Ahmed, Pakistan used to be a formidable unit then.
Those days are long gone but the 44-year-old Waqar and the 41-year-old Mahmood are trying hard to help the current bunch turn into a consistent unit.
Their thought processes may contradict but they know that this Pakistan team has the potential to turn into a winning bunch someday.
“There are definitely problems. Top-order did not make runs (in both matches). Conditions were also such that it is difficult to bat against the new ball. But our experienced batsmen – Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik – played matured innings and got us home,” Waqar said referring to the seven-wicket win over UAE in the Asia Cup T20 last night.
If Waqar spoke about adverse conditions, his deputy Mahmood, who has played a lot of T20 cricket as a professional in private leagues, has a different take.
“If you ask me, as a T20 specialist, sometimes it’s good for the bowlers as well. Sometimes it is good to check the skills and technique of the batsmen as well. I mean we can’t argue about the pitches. We have to play on whatever they produce as professionals, we have to learn and play on all kinds of pitches.”
If their opinions are contradictory on one issue, when it comes to Mohammed Amir, both are generous in their praise.
“Amir has bowled 21 dot balls out of 24 against the UAE. I think that’s what you need in T20. Bowl more dot balls,” said Waqar, one half of the lethal opening new ball pair that the history of the game has ever produced.
Mahmood, in this case, is in sync with his chief coach. (Pakistan Capable of Reaching Asia Cup Final, Says Haroon Rasheed)
“Amir is a world class bowler the way he bowled before and even from the time he has come back, he is a world class bowler. I haven’t got much time in between practice but we are working on specific skills during optional practice.”
Pakistan’s openers have failed in both the matches. Waqar was asked whether he had any word of advice for Sharjeel Khan and Mohammed Hafeez when they were going out to bat, he replied: “Yes I did tell the openers. But they came back very quickly.”
When Mahmood was asked about the failure of the top-order, he said: “Everyone can do mistakes as long as we learn from our mistakes its fine. If you see India’s batting, they have some of the best batsmen in the world and even they struggled.”
What both want from the senior players is a bit of maturity.
“I don’t know if many people think that. I think we are really a force in the tournament. We got to play really well in the next two games. In T20, you are going to get into jail and you are going to get out of jail. That’s exactly what happened today. We were in problem and then your matured players take you out of that. But this does not mean, if we did not do well in this game that we are not good enough,” Waqar said.
Mahmood felt that “focus should be on Pakistan’s strength, which is pace bowling while there is room for improvement as far as batting is concerned”.