Mohammad Amir’s alleged confession in the spot-fixing scandal once again threatens to overshadow the national team’s on-field performance as Pakistan reach the end of a tour on which they are yet to face defeat.
Pakistan take on Zimbabwe in the second Twenty20, the final match of the tour that will also mark the end of Waqar Younis’ stint as the team’s coach.
With the team under the spotlight and special emphasis being placed on discipline, team manager Naveed Akram Cheema faced a tough ask on his maiden tour after replacing Intikhab Alam.
Positive frame of mind helped: manager
Cheema had termed the job a challenging one prior to the tour but confirmed that it was a challenging tour despite being controversy- free.
“We came here with a positive frame of mind, keeping our spirits high despite all that had happened previously,” Cheema told The Express Tribune. “Zimbabwe, undoubtedly, is a good team and we never wrote them off at any time on the tour. They did rise to the challenge and gave us a shock a few times on the tour but the team, a good mix of youth and experience, got the job done and that was what was expected of them.”
Pakistan have had a terrific tour, beating the hosts in the one-off Test, three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and the first Twenty20 played on Friday. The domination, according to Cheema, comes courtesy the positive intention and the body language of the players.
“We had good combinations in the Test and the limited-overs series and the team played like a unit with the results showing exactly that. Even the ICC officials [referee and umpires] came up to me and commended the attitude of the players both on and off the field.
“As the manager, I am delighted the way everything is going.”
‘Emphasis on discipline
The PCB, since the spot-fixing scandal, has forced a strict code of conduct and disciplinary policies on the players, reducing their communication and interaction with the media and strangers on tours.
“The board’s campaign was to ensure and maintain discipline which is an important aspect now.
“What happened in the past cannot be changed but the opportunity to ensure it doesn’t happen again is always there.”
Discipline aside, Pakistan have enjoyed good show on the field in batting, bowling and fielding against Zimbabwe.
Mohammad Hafeez struck a century in the one-off Test as well as in the ODI series and was adjudged man of the match in the opening Twenty20 after scoring 71 and taking four wickets.
The performance of Aizaz Cheema, the comeback of Sohail Tanvir and the form of Younus Khan bears glad tidings for the sterner tests that await Pakistan — Sri Lanka in October and England in January next year.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2011.