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Monday November 29, 2021

Pakistan mull spin duo for opening Test

July 22, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan management is considering going into the first Test against England with two spinners if playing surfaces continued to be slow and less suited to pace.

Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis in a video interview with journalists on Tuesday said that what Pakistan had gathered from the two Test matches played between West Indies and England was that the pitches were slow.

“That never had been the case before. I have experience of playing in England. Pitches at the two venues where the Test series is being played used to be fast and helpful to pacers. But in the first two Tests now, at Ageas Bowl and even at Old Trafford, pitches gave slow and low look. If that turned out to be the case we may go into the match with two spinners. But it is too early to say anything final at this point. Let us wait and see what kind of surface is there for the third Test. We have two weeks at our disposal,” Waqar reacted to a question put forward by ‘The News’ about possible combination of playing XI for the first Test.

Pakistan bowling coach said the team management had several combinations at its disposal. “The two practice matches will give us a better view. We have played one and there is a second practice match starting in a few days. Hopefully by the time we complete our practice we will have a better idea as to what our best option for the first Test is,” he added.

Chances are that Iftikhar Ahmad could be inducted in the team as second spinner alongside Yasir Shah. Waqar did not rule out playing Mohammad Amir or Wahab Riaz. “Though both had quit Test cricket, they are now ready to play Tests if required. Wahab has already accepted the offer. We are waiting to see Amir’s form and fitness. At this point of time we don’t know how fit and ready he is. But if his bowling is of any value for the country, he could be included in the Test team,” he said.

All players selected for the series against England have been told that they should be ready to play for the country in all formats. It was after seeking their consent that they were named on the touring party.

“I am delighted to see bowlers, batsmen making full use of the opportunities coming their way. Following months of no cricket, Pakistan cricketers came out all guns blazing showing extreme urge to get ready for the Test series. I don’t think I could have asked anything better. The practice in England gives more look of a true camp training. In fact it is more than that,” he said.

Waqar was also excited to see so many pacers and batsmen in one camp. “It is an opportunity to train these youngsters for tough international tours ahead. Apart from the series against England, it is an opportunity for the youngsters to get ready for coming international assignments,” he added.

Commenting on the prospects of Pakistan performance against England, Waqar said the team had always matched hosts in all departments during previous tours. “Look we have better chances this time. We have our strong points and these need to be exploited,” said Waqar.

The former Test pacer was not ready to compare Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi with his pair with Wasim Akram. “It would be too early to say anything on that. They are just teenagers and need more exposure and experience. Both have immense talent and urge to do better. All depends on their future hard work,” he said.

Reacting to a question on the future of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez at a time when World Cup 2020 had been pushed for late 2021, he said they were the best judges. “It would be wrong for me to suggest anything. They are the best judges and should decide accordingly,” he added.

He also rejected the impression that Junaid Khan’s ouster from the tour had anything to do with him. “All players are like my kids. Misbahul Haq knows every player better and he is the best judge to decide whom to select. He gets all the feedback from the coaches of the provincial associations,” he said.

He also praised the fast improving fitness standard of the touring squad. “Soon we are going to set our own fitness standards for others to follow rather than we following others,” he said.