Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi hinted at playing an extra spinner in the team during the World Cup which gets underway on February 19.
The all-rounder said that Pakistan have several spin options and they were prepared to unleash them on the turning tracks of the subcontinent.
“The playing conditions here would be quite different to what we encountered during our tour of New Zealand,” said Afridi.
Pakistan has two specialist spinners – Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman – in its 15-man squad. Afridi and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez also add variety to its spin attack. Afridi has also played down fears that Pakistan will be going into the World Cup with a depleted pace attack saying that his fast bowlers have the guts to shine in the mega event.
“I don’t think that there is any cause for concern. Our team is shaping up well and the boys are all highly motivated to give their best in the World Cup.”
Sohail Tanvir was dropped at the last minute due to fitness issues. An ageing Shoaib Akhtar will be leading the pace attack that includes Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz and Abdul Razzaq.
Waqar wants Cup jinx broken
As a player, Waqar Younis had nothing but bad memories of the World Cup.
Now, as a coach, he has the challenge of turning around Pakistan’s talented yet unpredictable team.
“It’s true that the World Cup hasn’t been too kind to me but that’s motivation and a challenge enough to fight on and take another chance as coach of a talented team which can win the tournament,” said Waqar.
Waqar was considered Pakistan’s main weapon in the 1992 World Cup in Australia but a week before the event started, he had to return home in tears without playing a match due to injury.
“It was a nightmare to return with an injury. It does hurt that I wasn’t part of it but I still remember going to Lahore airport to receive the team when they returned.
By 1996, Waqar had matured into a world class bowler, but his World Cup jinx continued. Pakistan crashed out in the quarter-finals. Up against their arch-rivals India in front of a vociferous Bangalore crowd, Waqar ran into Ajay Jadeja who clobbered him for 22 runs in one of the death overs. Pakistan lost by 39 runs.
“That was one of those days when I couldn’t control the aggression, but we could still have won the game had the batsmen capitalised on a good start.”
By 1999 Wasim preferred Shoaib Akhtar over Waqar, who managed to play just one match in the event held in England — that too in an embarrassing defeat to minnows Bangladesh.
In 2001, the roll of the dice fell in Waqar’s favour as he was appointed captain after his career was revived through notable performances ahead of the 2003 World Cup held in South Africa. But things didn’t change as Pakistan crashed out in the first round after defeats against Australia, India and England.
This time around, Waqar is very confident the World Cup jinx will be broken.
“In 1992, nobody thought Pakistan would win the World Cup. This time the event is in our part of the world and we stand a very good chance. I would love to deliver the best I can as a coach this time and have ever-lasting memories of the event.” AGENCIES
Right-arm Saeed Ajmal
Strike rate 41.3
Left-arm Abdul Rehman
Strike rate 65.0
Right-arm Shahid Afridi
Strike rate 45.7
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2011.