Defeat in first Test was shocking, admits Waqar

Updated 13 Aug 2020

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PAKISTAN opener Abid Ali bats in the nets during a practice session at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday. — Courtesy PCB
PAKISTAN opener Abid Ali bats in the nets during a practice session at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday. — Courtesy PCB

LAHORE: Pakistan fast bowling coach Waqar Younis has admitted that the defeat in the first Test against England was ‘shocking’ stating that the team management was not expecting it. He, however, said it happens in cricket and his team is capable of bouncing back in the series, despite being inexperienced, by winning the second Test against England, starting today at Southampton.

Addressing a pre-Test presser from Southampton on a video-link on Wednesday, Waqar said: “They are inexperienced but we have got no other choice. They will gain experience when they will play so we have to be patient. Both Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi are talented. The way they bowled in both innings was quite impressive but unfortunately we could not win. The series is not over yet and we will bounce back. These guys have won matches for Pakistan back at home.”

Waqar, however, was clueless when asked who will play the second Test, saying: “It is Misbah-ul-Haq’s job to finalise the playing XI being the head coach and chief selector whereas my role is limited to consultation only.”

Waqar said he had no idea about the pitch as the team and its management had just arrived at the stadium and he didn’t have a look at it.

When asked about Shadab Khan’s place in the team, Waqar defended the leg-spinner’s performance with the willow in the last Test thereby keeping the window open for any possible change in the playing squad for the second Test.

“I think Shadab’s performance with the bat was quite satisfactory as he scored in both innings. Although, he was not fully used as a bowler but overall his performance was good. The final decision, however, rests with Misbah,” he said.

About losing the first Test, Waqar said it was disappointing. “I think we won more sessions of that Test and we really played well but we lost one session at a wrong time and it cost us the game,” he said.

When asked about the batsmen’s poor performance, he said: “Had Pakistan won the Test, I believe no such questions would have been posed to me, so, all of this is happening because we lost the first Test.”

About Azhar Ali’s poor run with the bat, Waqar said: “Azhar is the right man to answer this question. It’s not easy to do captaincy and then bat at the top border. He is going through a lean patch and it is not the first time he is facing such a situation as he has overcome it in the past. He is a seasoned player and has scored in England. He will deliver in upcoming matches.”

To a question about Nasim Shah, Waqar said he was a very talented bowler, bowling at a tender age of 17 or 18.”Nasim is still very young and what a talent he is! He really bowled well in the previous game and that is exactly what we were expecting from him.

“We dominated the first Test for the first three and half days but in the end, England burnt their bridges and took away the game from us,” he said.

“To become a great bowler in future, Nasim, however, has to keep himself fit and strong to bowl long spells to beat the batsmen world over.

“As a fast bowler, you should look into the eyes of batsmen, trust your abilities and that is exactly what he did. He is still learning and with experience he will go further,” Waqar said.

To a question about the England team’s missing all-rounder Ben Stokes, Waqar said: “He is the kind of cricketer who can take away the game single-handedly. In the first Test, we made a plan against him and executed it well, but no doubt he is a match-winner.

“Yes, he is not around (in the next Test) and it is unfortunate for cricket and England will feel it in the middle-order, but we will try to cash it,” he said.

Waqar also praised leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who took eight wickets in the first Test. “He is a match-winner and a very attacking bowler who likes to be involved in the game all the time — both with the ball and bat. His records speak for the talent he has but unfortunately he could not finish the last game in Pakistan’s favour,” he said.

Defending the heavy coaching staff, Waqar said: “Yes it is a heavyweight dressing room and there is no doubt about it. But unfortunately, the coaching staff can only sit outside the ground and not inside it. So the coaches can only give the players a plan, coaching tips whereas the players are responsible for executing it on the ground.”

Till filing of the report, the team management has not announced the list of 16 probables for the second Test. There are reports that the grass on the pitch has been removed which has forced the team management to reconsider the list of probables.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2020