KARACHI: Having changed the fortunes of cricket in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the last decade, it was inevitable Abdul Rehman would be rewarded for having modern ideas as a coach.

Following successful stints as assistant coach for Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchises Peshawar Zalmi and Multan Sultans, a Master’s degree holder in International Relations, Rehman got opportunities to serve Pakistan as interim head coach as well as assistant to the national side’s recently-removed gaffer Grant Bradburn.

The opportunities, however, weren’t that of full authority for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Level VI qualified coach. But when the ninth season of the PSL kicks off in February next year, Rehman will have the full stage to himself.

The 53-year-old, whose coaching principles are based on “fearlessness, game awareness, consistency, energy and 360 players”, was appointed as the head coach of Multan Sultans in September, replacing Andy Flower, and is looking forward to exercising full authority.

“As head coach you are fully authorised, you have the power to implement all the things that have defined you in life as a coach,” Rehman told Dawn on Friday. “We have learnt a lot from Andy but as assistant we can only make recommendations but your ideas aren’t the final call.

“We have modern cricket, data and match-ups and I am excited to apply what I bring to the table.”

Rehman’s appointment was a part of the host of changes Multan Sultans underwent following the demise of former owner Alamgir Khan Tareen, which also saw Haider Azhar stepping down as the franchise’s general manager.

Haider, who was considered an integral part of the Sultans’ set up in terms of strategy and player acquisition, moved to Karachi Kings in the same role but triggered some interesting transactions between his current and former employers.

Multan traded former captain Shan Masood to Karachi for the first pick in the Diamond category, the second pick in the Silver category as well as as a promising young chinaman bowler in Faisal Akram, who hails from the City of Saints only.

Rehman revealed Shan, who was the settled opener for the team along with captain Mohammad Rizwan, was let go because he wanted to play for his home city.

The Multan head coach said Shan’s replacement, it’s highly likely, will be franchise’s Platinum pick in the draft, which is set to be held in Lahore on Dec. 13.

Multan have the first pick in the category, which they got through trading middle-order mainstay Rilee Rossouw to Quetta Gladiators. The deal also saw Iftikhar Ahmed moving from Quetta to Multan.

“Rilee wanted to play for Quetta while Iftikhar wanted to play for Multan,” said Rehman, adding that the franchise respected the South African’s ambitions. “But we have only got better with Iftikhar’s arrival. He is the best lower middle-order batter in the country, bowls well and will improve our local core and add to this the platinum pick.”

Multan, who lifted the PSL trophy in 2020, narrowly missed out on winning the title in the last two seasons, losing both finals to Lahore Qalandars.

Rehman believed it was because of the unavailability of crucial picks in Ireland’s Josh Little and South African Wayne Parnell and high dependency on youngsters Abbas Afridi and Ihsanullah.

“In the draft we are aiming to look at bowlers who can do well in the death overs,” he said, while also backing Abbas and Ihsanullah, along with Khushdil Shah, who has also been retained.

“Abbas was the top wicket-taker last year, he is very important for us in middle and death overs,” said the coach. “Khushdil has been out of form but he is very talented and you don’t get lower middle order players very easily in Pakistan.”

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2023

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