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KARACHI: Former captain of Pakistan and middle-order batsman Shoaib Malik has said that Pakistan will have an edge over the West Indies in the upcoming three-match T20 series due to the home conditions but the islanders can’t be taken lightly because their new and young players can really spring a surprise in the shorter format.

He was speaking to the media here after the team’s practice session in preparation for the Windies series at the National Stadium on Friday.

“I have been playing the Caribbean Premier League for the last 5 to 6 years, so I know their team is really solid,” said Malik. “We focus more on the big names but ignore the basic fact that it’s the team combination that wins you games. And they have sent a really well-balanced squad,” he added.

Malik also had a lot of praise for Hasan Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Muhammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf and said they could be compared with the former superstars of Pakistan for their talent and effort. “I have played with many former players of Pakistan and all these young boys remind me of them in many ways,” said Malik. “The selection committee and the team management deserve a lot of credit for sticking with these boys which is why their game is improving with each day,” Malik remarked.

“Ups and downs are a part of the game. You don’t pick up 400 wickets or score 10,000 runs easily because the cricketing journey is very tough and unpredictable. Players should be backed by the team management and the selection committee. They need confidence when they hit a bad patch and they should be given a longer run,” he said.

Speaking about his role in the team, Malik said that he is ready for any role given to him by the team management. “I have been bowling on consistent basis. Even in the PSL, whenever I felt that I should have a go with the ball, I did. I am happy to bat, bowl or field at any place my team wants me to,” said the veteran all-rounder.

Commenting on his batting position, Malik said that he is in the twilight of his cricketing career and would be happy to see the youngsters doing well and batting up the order. “Our youngsters are pretty good. I think it is imperative to send the youngsters ahead of the seniors in order to groom them,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2018