KARACHI: Bowling coach Waqar Younis exuded optimism when he said Pakistan bowlers would do well against England in the One-day International series starting from Thursday despite the fickle weather hampering the team’s preparations.
Addressing a virtual media conference from Pakistan team’s base in Derby, Waqar claimed the bowlers have been getting used to the unfamiliar conditions during the protracted training sessions.
“We are a bit unlucky that poor weather has cut short our practice sessions with the rain around over the past several days, which is a norm in England. But despite all that, the bowlers are responding really well to the conditions here in whatever facilities or limited opportunities they had thus far,” the ex-Pakistan captain told reporters on Monday. “We did get some chance of practicing outdoors. Though the bowlers have come extreme weather [of Abu Dhabi when the remainder of HBL Pakistan Super League 6 was held there last month], they’ve done well to acclimatize to the rather cool climate of England.
“One should always remember it does take time in adjusting from four-over [T20] bowling to 10-over stuff of one-day cricket, but our bowlers are now much experienced and they know how to get used to the English conditions, especially Shaheen [Shah Afridi] has done well, Hasan [Ali] also has been at the top of his game.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with their progress and the best part is they have arrived here from hot weather and we didn’t have work for long. Over a period of time I’m more than satisfied to see them getting better and better and learning all the time to improve their skills in all conditions. We are also blessed that due to the Covid-19 situation, we do get to work with more bowlers in the enlarged Pakistan squad,” he added.
Waqar, who formed a legendary new-ball partnership with Wasim Akram during the 1990s, was confident Pakistan had been monitoring England’s performance during their recent white-ball series and we will be preparing accordingly.
“The recent England-Sri Lanka series was not too competitive but still we kept a very close eye on how the England bowlers had the upper hand against the Sri Lankan batsmen. And since I had a vast experience of playing in every sort of weather over here and therefore know how to utilise the conditions and what is exactly required from our bowlers. I’m sure the plans we are working on for the series will come good,” the bowling coach stressed.
While refusing to elaborate on PCB’s top official Wasim Khan meeting disgruntled fast bowler Mohammad Amir in a bid to retract his retirement from international cricket, Waqar observed it was a matter of conjecture with unnecessary fuss being aired in various quarters.
“To be honest I have no knowledge of the said meeting between them and what I came to know was through media reports. Being the chief executive of the board, Wasim has got every right to go and see whoever he wants and he to meet Amir on a personal visit. And since the story is out in the open and created some controversy,” was Waqar’s response.
“A lot has had been discussed about Amir. No doubt he is still a fine cricketer, and if he doesn’t want to play or is unwilling to takes his retirement back and impress the selectors with his performance, I mean then it is hard then because it is Pakistan cricket and it’s not my or your cricket. One has got to do the right things to play for your country since it’s not franchise cricket, one got to remember that.”
Commenting on the rise of emerging seamer Shahnawaz Dahani — who played a pivotal role during Multan Sultans’ title-winning campaign during the PSL — Waqar sounded excited: “There is no doubt Dahani is a very talented fast bowler and that’s why kept in the Test squad [for the West Indies series in August]. Definitely we’ll monitor his development because he’s got a great future ahead of him. He is the highest wicket-taker  in the PSL and everyone keeps praising him. He’s bowled extremely well, which is a plus-plus for Pakistan. I pray to Allah that there are more bowlers like Dahani emerging on the horizon.”
When asked to comment on not a single Pakistan bowler is among the top rankings, Waqar responded: “Our aim is not to overly worry about our bowlers not among the top ladder of rankings, but our priority is to ensure Pakistan win more matches and we have done reasonably well by winning several series in the recent past. So from my point of view, it is not a big thing to see our bowlers not in the top 10 list as long as they function as a unit and keep performing as long Pakistan’s ranking is improving.”
Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2021