LAHORE: The Pakistan team is determined to win the second Test against New Zealand starting on Saturday and seal their first Test-series win in over four years, according to team manager Intikhab Alam.
The tourists won the first Test by ten wickets courtesy a dramatic batting collapse in which New Zealand, at one point, lost four wickets for just one run. The team, according to the manager, is determined to finish the Test series in style and focus on the One-Day Internationals (ODI) with the World Cup starting next month.
“Although Test cricket is a different ball game but the team is looking confident ahead of the ODI series keeping in mind the World Cup,” Alam told The Express Tribune. “It’s all about a good start. We won the first Test so naturally the confidence level was boosted by that and our players will definitely try to dominate the hosts in the second Test as well as the all-important ODI series.”
‘Afridi faces tough task’
Alam also warned the limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi that he would be facing an enormous challenge during the six-match series.
“It’s always a challenge for the captain to lead from the front. Naturally, a captain has to perform well and it’s important to guide his team through tough times and due to that, the ODI series would be a challenge for Afridi.”
Under Afridi’s captaincy this year, Pakistan stumbled in their defence of the World Twenty20 title and fared poorly in the Asia Cup as well as the series against England, South Africa and New Zealand.
“He’s a real fighter. His captaincy has developed a fighting spirit in the team and he’ll surely bounce back.”
Coach backs his team
Team coach Waqar Younis paid tribute to his players for keeping their focus on the job at hand as former teammates faced corruption hearings in Doha.
“It’s not that we’ve been playing bad cricket, it’s just that the controversy has just been following us,” he said. “It’s very, very hard for the boys to keep going and keep hearing this but I’m very proud of these boys. They’ve stuck to the task and every morning they get up and stay positive.”
On the Wright track, says NZ coach
New Zealand critics, including former Test opener Mark Richardson, expressed concern that the focus on Twenty20 had turned New Zealand’s batsmen into one-dimensional players prone to wild shots and poor decision making.
Captain Daniel Vettori denied the accusation in the wake of the Hamilton loss but coach John Wright later conceded that the emphasis on the shorter form could be a factor behind the batting failure.
“The talent’s there but we’ve really got a bit of teaching to do,” he told Radio Sport. “I think the reality is that if you look at learning to bat, particularly in a Test match, we’ve probably been more exposed in other forms of the game.” (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM AFP)
Pakistan manager Intikhab Alam
“Afridi’s a real fighter and there’s no doubt about that. His captaincy has developed a fighting spirit in the team and he’ll surely bounce back.”
New Zealand coach John Wright
“If you look at learning to bat, particularly in a Test match, our team members have probably been more exposed in other forms of the game.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2011.
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