Pakistan coach says pitches in Australia and New Zealand are challenging for batsmen.
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis on Thursday backed senior batsman Younis Khan to return to form in the World Cup despite a worrying slump.
The 37-year-old has managed just 1, 7, 9, 11, 25 and 19 in the six matches Pakistan have played since arriving in New Zealand last month. Khan was not in the selectors’ planning for the World Cup but the veteran hit a 100 in the 3-2 defeat against New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates in November last year and forced his way into the 15-man squad.
“I think the pitches in Australia and New Zealand are challenging and initially batsmen struggle here but he is a senior batsman. We need him to get into the right kind of form soon. I am confident that he will come into that soon,” said Younis.
If Pakistan persist with Khan they have to drop either of their two talented youngsters, Umar Akmal or Sohaib Maqsood. It will be a tough decision as Khan has passed 50 just twice in his three previous World Cups.
Pakistan lost both their warm-up games before their recent New Zealand series and then were defeated in both one-day internationals against the Black Caps. They found themselves a bowler short after spinning all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez was unable to bowl due to a suspension for an illegal action last year.
“It’s difficult to find the right combination. We will sit down in the next three days and see. Still, there are three more days to go before the big one,” said Younis.
The big one, of course, is Sunday’s sell-out World Cup blockbuster against India in Adelaide. “India has always been a tough opponent, we are not going to take it easy. We will wake up that morning in a positive frame of mind and try to give our best.”
Pakistan go into the game having lost all five of their World Cup clashes against their neighbors at the World Cup. But Younis said wins in the World Cup warm-up games over Bangladesh and Pakistan this week will give his team much-needed momentum, without reading too much into it.
“Look, these are just warm-up games and one must not draw conclusions from here. But we must take positives, they have given us the right kind of momentum.” He described the World Cup as an “open” competition.
“You can judge this World Cup to be very open, some teams are in good form, some are getting into the groove. So, it can be anybody’s cup,” said the Pakistan coach. “Cricket is such a game. What happened in 1992 [Pakistan winning the World Cup] can happen again. That’s the beauty of cricket.”