KARACHI: Quetta Gladiators coach Moin Khan on Saturday backed batsmen Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad and termed them as assets of Pakistan cricket.
The duo, who have suffered a lot during their careers due to disciplinary and fitness issues have hit form after their services were acquired by the Gladiators for the ongoing HBL Pakistan Super League.
Umar has scored an impressive 288 runs in nine outings for the Quetta outfit while Shehzad has amassed 153 in five innings during the UAE leg of the tournament.
Umar’s performance has also earned him a comeback to the Pakistan side after two years for the upcoming ODI series against Australia while Shehzad still waits for his return.
“I personally believe both are deserving players. They are such players who can walk in the Pakistan team any time and we have an example of Umar [Akmal] just recently,” Moin said during a press conference at the National Stadium on Saturday.
The Quetta Gladiators’ management, after picking Umar and Shehzad had made it clear that they wanted to give them a chance to prove themselves. Having taken the responsibility, it is clear that side’s coaches are doing a very good job.
A job the coaches working with the national side should have done considering the skillset of both players.
“Coaches aren’t only supposed to diagnose the disease but should have the treatment as well. Previously unfortunately whatever happened with these kids .. they are good players and our assets,” said Moin.
“So all we did was treated them right, gave them the due respect. If a player is given respect he deserves then I don’t think there is any reason or any hindrance in between for player performance. They behaved well throughout, have a good discipline.”
Moin shrugged off controversies which are rising after Pakistan and Gladiators’ captain Sarfraz Ahmed was rested for the Australia ODIs. The former Test wicket-keeper said considering the amount of cricket being played nowadays, the selection committee’s decision to rest the captain was not as big as it is being portrayed.
“Every decision is right if it has the consent of all parties. I don’t believe that such big decision by selection committee is taken without speaking to him. I think for Sarfraz rest is important and required for him as he has been playing a lot of cricket continuously from last five to six months,” said Moin.
The Gladiators’ coach, however, defended the franchise’s right to keep playing their skipper for the remaining part of the PSL.
“It’s PSL and it’s our requirement to play him but when you planning broadly for bigger prospect [like World Cup] then a player needs a rest somewhere,” said Moin, a World Cup winner himself.
“We as Quetta Gladiators aren’t required to rest Sarfraz as he is important for us. Also, given the fact he is already resting in Australia series so we need him around. We have his consent and he is okay to be and playing for us.”
Moin, however, said it would have been better if Sarfraz had been selected in the Pakistan squad as a non-playing member.
Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2019