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KARACHI, Nov 3: Pakistan cricket team’s head coach Dav Whatmore on Saturday strongly denied wanting Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez replaced, branding such reports as an attempt to demoralise the team before its high-profile tour of India.

Local media this week reported that Whatmore has suggested the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should replace Hafeez, who took over as Twenty20 captain in May.

“I wish to clarify that I am currently not in Pakistan and have not given any interview or statement to any media. Neither have I submitted or discussed any such suggestion to the PCB,” Whatmore was quoted as saying in a PCB news release.

Pakistan reached the semi-final of the World Twenty20 held in Sri Lanka last month but Hafeez’s captaincy was criticised by former players and the media, who blamed him for making arbitrary decisions.

Team-mate Abdul Razzaq also criticised Hafeez for dropping him from the semi-final line-up against Sri Lanka.

However, PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf this week confirmed Hafeez was being retained as Twenty20 captain for the series against India.

Whatmore, who coached Sri Lanka to World Cup victory in 1996, said such reports were aimed at demoralising the Pakistan team.

“The news item is totally incorrect and based on wrong intentions. It is an attempt to demoralise the team when they are preparing for the all-important Indian tour,” remarked Whatmore.

Pakistan are due to tour India for two Twenty20 and three One-day Internationals in December and January – the first bilateral series between the two countries in five years.

India stalled bilateral sporting relations with Pakistan following the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, which left 166 people dead and were blamed on militants based across the border.

But after hectic efforts from Pakistan, India relented in July this year, inviting the arch-rivals to tour. New Delhi cleared the tour earlier this week.—AFP

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