Waqar counting on Ajmal for Sri Lanka series

Head coach expects off-spinner to emulate Steyn’s heroics against Islanders.



KARACHI:


Pakistan’s national team head coach Waqar Younis is banking on ace off-spinner Saeed Ajmal to win the series against Sri Lanka, stating that the Faisalabad-born has it in him to wreck the Islanders the same way South Africa’s Dale Steyn did in their first Test in Galle.


It would be pertinent to mention here that Ajmal has returned to Pakistan after a successful stint with England county team Worcestershire, where he claimed 63 wickets in just nine matches to help his team top the table with 182 points from 11 matches.

The training camp for the upcoming Sri Lanka series is currently under way in Lahore, where the players continue to train in two sessions.

“If South Africa have Steyn to pose problems for the Sri Lankans, then we have Ajmal,” said Waqar while speaking to media in Lahore.

“We obviously have different plans than South Africa to attack Sri Lanka and we’ve got bowlers who are bowling well like Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Talha.”

Waqar admitted that although Pakistan’s strength will be spin against the Islanders, the team will avoid relying too much on them.

“There will be horses for courses who can help us win in different conditions. Although our fast-bowling isn’t top-class, we have decent pace battery,” he stressed.

‘Series by series work need to be done’

The 42-year-old emphasised that fans and media should not forget that Pakistan have three important series going into the 2015 World Cup, which cannot be neglected at any cost.

“We have three series before the World Cup so we don’t want to ruin them. We need to work series by series and match by match going into the mega event to see what changes our required with time,” he explained.



The coach reiterated that Pakistan will strive to win both the Test and one-day series and the players will play positive cricket.

He further said that the team is not concerned with whatever is happening in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) amid court proceedings as he wants his players to practice hard and not get distracted by off-field activities.

Waqar backs army of support staff

The former captain also defended the criticism of having too much support staff, as critics feel that having too many people may lead to chaos.

The PCB recently announced a 10-member team management including Waqar, Moin Khan (manager), Mushtaq Ahmed (spin bowling coach), Grant Flower (batting coach), Grant Luden (fielding coach/trainer), Mazhar Arif (security manager), Mohammad Talha Butt (analyst), Usman Ghani (physiotherapist), Shahid Aslam (assistant to head coach) and Mohammad Imran (masseur).

“If we compare with other countries who have 17 people looking after the team, I don’t think we have too much support staff,” he concluded.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.

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