Pakistan fast-bowler Junaid Khan expressed joy over having former captain Waqar Younis in the ranks as head coach, stressing that the legendary cricketer would be of great help to the young pacemen in the squad as they gear up to tackle Sri Lanka in August.
Sri Lanka have a sound batting line-up with veterans including Mahela Jayawardene, who boasts over 11,000 runs in 147 Tests, and Kumar Sangakkara, also registering over 11,000 runs with 36 centuries. Pitches in Sri Lanka are also less known for the assistance they provide to pacemen and with Pakistan’s relatively inexperienced bowling line-up, the tourists need all the help they can get.
Junaid, who has an excellent record against Sri Lanka, is also the most senior bowler in the squad with 16 appearances. Wahab Riaz (seven), Rahat Ali (six) and Mohammad Talha (two) make up the rest of the pace artillery.
Junaid said Waqar’s presence would not only boost the pacemen’s confidence but also provide them with the necessary skills to take 20 wickets on placid pitches.
“All the fast-bowlers are still new to Test cricket as we have not played a lot in the longest format of the game,” said Junaid while speaking to media in Lahore on Thursday.
“But having Waqar as coach will definitely help us improve due to his vast experience. We’ll try to do well on a day to day basis before going up against Sri Lanka, who have senior batsmen like Jayawardene and Sangakkara.”
Junaid has picked up 56 wickets in his Test career so far; 40 were bagged from the nine Tests played against Sri Lanka which include four five-wicket hauls and 14 from the three Tests played in Sri Lanka itself.
While discussing his bowling strategy on the batting tracks of Sri Lanka, the 24-year-old replied that he would try repeating earlier performances and maintain focus.
He recently returned after playing T20 cricket for Lancashire in the UK, where he accumulated 19 wickets from 10 outings.
“I’ve performed well in England while playing for Lancashire so my morale is really high going into the Tests series; the training camp is also helping us get in the rhythm for the Test format,” he added.
Ajmal positive ahead of series
Meanwhile, Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal said that he was looking forward to battling with the Sri Lankans, stating that even though they had world-class batsmen in their ranks, Pakistan’s balanced side would neutralise their effect.
A confident Ajmal claimed that he had always believed in his ability and was not concerned by his opponents.
“In Test cricket, 90% pitches are flat and I always take them as a challenge with a positive frame of mind regardless of where I’m bowling and who I’m bowling against,” said Ajmal.
“Sangakkara is my favourite player, but once we cross into their territory, they are our opponents and I’ll try to take his wicket to help my team win the series so that we can improve our International Cricket Council Test ranking.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2014.
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