Crescent Kashmir

Better to move forward, not to talk about past: Saqlain

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LAHORE: While avoiding any comment on the out-of-the-blue resignations of Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis, newly appointed interim coach of Pakistan cricket team Saqlain Mushtaq on Tuesday claimed his team would play aggressive brand of cricket against New Zealand in the forthcoming limited-overs home series.

The series comprises three day-night One-day Internationals, to be staged in Rawalpindi from Sept 17-21, and five T20 Internationals which will be held in Lahore from Sept 25 to Oct 3.

Talking to reporters, the 44-year-old Saqlain sidestepped queries concerning Monday’s jaw-dropping development when national team head coach Misbah and bowling coach Waqar stunned everyone by quitting their jobs their just as national squad was announced for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup being staged in the UAE in October-November.

“It is better to move forward and it is better not to talk about yesterday but to move forward, by talking about tomorrow,” former Test off-spinner Saqlain said at the presser.

Interim coach ready to take responsibility for results in New Zealand series

“During the last one year our clear message to all the players has been to play attacking and aggressive cricket and the same message has been conveyed to them [national team members] as well so they are ready to play that brand of cricket,” said Saqlain, who was working at the National High Performance Centre (NHPC) in Lahore as coach to develop international players before getting the new role on Monday.

The celebrated spinner during an illustrious international career — from 1995 to 2004 — played 49 Tests taking 208 wickets at the average of 29.83 while in 169 One-day International he snared 288 wickets at an impressive 21.78.

To a question, Saqlain reckoned the squad announced for the New Zealand series was well-balanced saying all the players selected had performed well both at international and domestic level in the past.

Obviously, Saqlain said, in case of defeat against New Zealand he would accept the responsibility just as taking credit in case of victory.

While acknowledging that he all of a sudden got the national coaching assignment, Saqlain said he possessed the dressing room experience both as coach and player after having worked with England, Bangladesh and West Indies teams in coaching roles.

Saqlain said it was a great opportunity for him to serve the Pakistan team for which he said he was excited and looking forward to it.

Asked if he would adjust with the national team players in such a short time in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup, Saqlain said all the selected players were already in interaction with him. “Therefore, it will not be a difficult job and the players also know well how to take sudden changes in a professional manner.”

“The series against New Zealand is important and hopefully the players will give their best,” he said.

Asked as he was inspired by the Indian cricket team, if he would give examples of Indian cricketers to his players in order to motivate them, Saqlain said Pakistan had a good number of legendary players, but as a coach he believed everyone should pick good techniques from everywhere.

Meanwhile, PCB chairman-designate Ramiz Raja held a lengthy meeting with national captain Babar Azam, vice-captain Mohammad Rizwan, chief selector Mohammad Wasim and coach Saqlain at the NHPC.

Former skipper Ramiz on the occasion advised the players to keep their focus on the game play while forgetting changes being made in the PCB.

Ramiz told the players that fans had a lot of expectations from them in the T20 World Cup, adding they should try to boost their game to make themselves a brand.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2021

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