Pakistan’s interim head coach Abdul Rehman speaks during a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday.—courtesy PCB
Pakistan’s interim head coach Abdul Rehman speaks during a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday.—courtesy PCB

LAHORE: Emphasising that the predominantly young squad selected for the forthcoming Afghanistan T20 series is rich in talent, Pakistan’s interim head coach Abdul Rehman on Tuesday said his batters have the ability to handle the opponent team’s potent spin attack.

“The team have all their bases covered. Our batters are quite able to give their best against Afghanistan’s spin attack which looks impressive with captain Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb-ur-Rehman,” Rehman said while addressing a press conference here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday, one day before the national squad leaves for Sharjah to play the T20 series against Afghanistan there.

“Our batters have played most of them [Afghan spinners] in the PSL. So hopefully it would not be a big challenge.

“We have some good all-rounders and batters in the middle-order who can dominate their bowlers,” he added.

“Moreover, our pace attack also has the ability to bowl 140kph plus and it is quite able to unnerve the opposition batters.”

The three-match series, the very first between the two neighbouring countries, starts on Friday.

Rehman, who has worked as an assistant coach with Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and was appointed as the national team interim head coach, said Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past played close matches against each other, adding Pakistan were a top-level team having won a number of ICC events.

“We played the 2022 T20 World Cup final. However, Afghanistan is also a rising side and they have good players,” Rehman, who has also worked with the Pakistan U-19 team, stated.

“Though we are missing some prominent names [in the squad for Afghanistan series] but our new players are highly talented. They may not match the performance of their [missing] seniors, but are promising and would give their best on the given day,” Rehman, who in the past also coached Peshawar Zalmi, said.

“The [Afghanistan] series is a chance for the junior players to showcase their abilities.”

Rehman said he alongside stalwarts like batting coach Mohammad Yousuf and bowling coach Umar would operate as a team.

“Coaching is my job, which I have been doing for the last 12, 13 years. The presence of greats like Mohammad Yousuf and Umar Gul in the dressing room will be a blessing for us and a source of significant confidence. So no one will dictate the other. Instead, we will operate like a team,” the head coach said.

Asked if he was named head coach after the announcement of the squad for the Afghanistan series, Rehman said he was appointed interim head coach and this factor was more important if a regular head coach was at the helm.

“I am thankful to the PCB for giving me this honour and trusting me. It is a dream of every coach to work and succeed for the national team. The PCB chairman trusts me and I will do my best to win the series,” he said.

To a question regarding PCB chairman Najam Sethi giving preference to foreign coaches for the national team and the Board’s ongoing talks with former Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur in this regard, Rehman said the question should better be asked from the PCB chairman while his focus is on winning the Afghanistan series.

Underlining that the wicket in Sharjah traditionally carries low bounce, Rehman said a “good professional player is one who can adjust to the conditions quickly”.

On how coaching in domestic cricket, which he has been doing, is different from coaching at an international stage, Rehman sounded pragmatic.

“Like players, who are picked in the national team on their performances in domestic games, a coach’s performance at the domestic level is also considered before he is given a role at international level,” he said.

“I have worked with many international coaches and recently worked with [Zimbabwe’s] Andy Flower at Multan Sultans, and in this way, I have learnt a lot from these coaches.”

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2023

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