Saturday, January 17, 2015

'Happy we are not favourites' - Waqar

 Waqar Younis on Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi:
Waqar Younis, the Pakistan head coach, is happy that his team is not going into the World Cup tagged as favourites, and pointed to their creditable semi-final finish in the 2011 edition when they went in without too many expectations.
"I am happy that we are not favorites," Waqar said in Lahore. "To be very honest it's big pressure of being favorites. We were not favorites last time (in 2011) too but we played excellent cricket. Similarly this time, there are teams which play on those bouncy wickets like Australia and South Africa, and are probably bigger favorites than us. But we hope that with the type of resources we have we can do well."
As preparation for the World Cup, Pakistan had a five-day camp in Lahore which will be followed by two ODIs against New Zealand in Wellington and Napier. During the camp, batsmen were seen playing on marble slabs to counter short balls though the sessions remained brief. Pakistan recently had a lengthy outing in the UAE and avoided going into an extensive conditioning camp. Waqar said Pakistan have "sufficient" cricket at World Cup venues to adapt to the conditions.
"As far as the camp is concerned, we had been playing cricket for the last three months, the camp was just for bonding, to recollect things for four-five days. Of course conditions were quite different from where we are going, here it was quite cold, but we are going to New Zealand first, and we have two weeks to get used to the conditions there.
"That's all you got and it's not that every team, apart from three teams which are playing in Australia… the conditions will be same for all other teams as well. We had been playing for quite some time now and you don't want to get burn out, you don't want to get fatigued. You need fresh people and we are trying to keep them fresh. We have few matches before the World Cup and I think we have sufficient time."
Pakistan have named five fast bowlers in their World Cup squad including the injury prone Junaid Khan, who had another scare when he slipped while bowling in the nets on Thursday. Mohammad Irfan may have been in flow but he has a brittle body.
"Unfortunately injuries hit us at the wrong time and you get a setback," Waqar said. "On the face of it, it looks that we are taking lots of injuries but I don't think there are so many injuries. We had problems to our fast bowlers for few months and of course the recent episode with Junaid is a setback. If you can't have injuries you can't move forward.
"I don't want to name favorites and put my team under pressure. All the bowlers will have to share the workload until the World Cup and probably to get the best combination it's the best thing to do. We have high hopes from Irfan, Wahab (Riaz) and Junaid. They are all experienced bowlers. All they need is to stay fit and fresh."
Waqar said the recent announcements that Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq would be quitting ODIs after the World Cup had gone down well with the dressing room. "I can tell you from the results of the last four-five days that they decided to finish on a high. Their body language is very positive and it's a very positive sign for our youngsters that if someone has decided to quit, they have promised to us that they are going to give not 100 percent but 150 percent in their last tournament. After playing for so long they still have something in the tank. I want to see the best from them and I am sure both of them will give their 100 per cent."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent.Waqar Younis on Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi:


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