Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson has defended two of his most unpredictable players — Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq — and insists that the two are working hard to become more consistent in the future.
Lawson, the former Australian pacer who took over as Pakistan coach this summer and is now on his first away Test tour, also told ‘The News’ in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview that his team is confident of a forceful showing in the Test series against India starting later this month.
“Its Afridi’s natural instinct to go for his shots but he is working to curb the habit of throwing away his wicket,” Lawson said of his flamboyant all-rounder, who fired a 14-ball 20 to seal a stunning victory for Pakistan in the second one-dayer against India in Mohali but misfired as an opener in the very next game that Pakistan lost by 46 runs in Kanpur.
“He (Afridi) is talking to team officials and his fellow players about his game and is trying to bring in more consistency to his batting,” said Lawson, who has been giving regular pep talks to Afridi since beginning his stint as Pakistan coach ahead of the inaugural World Twenty20 event in South Africa.
Pakistan reached the final of the 12-nation spectacle and Afridi was named the player of the series for his exploits as a bowler in the event. Though Afridi was sent in as an opener in Kanpur, Lawson believes that the all-rounder is more useful for Pakistan if he comes lower in the order.
“It can prove to be very useful if he (Afridi) comes in at number six or seven and hit a few boundaries like the way he did in Mohali,” he explained. Lawson also had a few words of praise for another of his charges, who is fast becoming an enigma — Misbah-ul-Haq.
The 33-year-old from Mianwali made a surprising return to the Pakistan line-up after being named in the country’s Twenty20 squad for the assignment in South Africa. He turned out to be one of the success stories for Pakistan in the World Twenty20 event but will unfortunately be remembered for all the wrong reasons after failing to finish off the game for Pakistan on two occasions including the final against old rivals India.
Again, in the second and third one-dayers in Mohali and Kanpur, Misbah threw away his wicket at crucial stages and on one of those occasions Pakistan were defeated convincingly. Critics are now questioning whether Misbah justifies his inclusion in the middle-order where he is trying to cement his place following the exit of the mighty Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Lawson believes Misbah just needs a little more time. “Misbah is a good batsman and is working hard bring more improvement in his game,” Lawson explained. Misbah mostly gets out trying to back paddle the ball towards the area behind the wicket and Lawson agreed he will have to stop doing that.
“You can’t just keep getting out like that,” he said. “Misbah is working on that area, he practicing some new shots and I’m sure he would do better in the coming matches,” he revealed. Lawson admitted that the hectic nature of the current tour schedule is affecting his players but was quick to add that it was the same for both the teams. “Its tough but it’s the same everywhere in the world,” he said regarding the itinerary of the current tour.
Pakistan played a warm-up game less than 24 hours after arriving in Delhi for the series and after playing five one-dayers in every nook and corner of this huge country, they will start the Test series in New Delhi just three days after the final One-day International (ODI) in Jaipur on November 18.
Pakistan who lost last month’s home Test series 0-1 against South Africa seem to lack the potency required to win a Test series in a tough place like India but Lawson said that nobody should count his team out.
“We have some good players and the team is capable of producing positive results both in one-dayers and Tests,” he said. “It is true that India are difficult to beat at home but we are going to give it our best shot,” he added.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Geoff Lawson, Misbah ul Haq, Pakistan, Pakistan in India 2007, Shahid Afridi
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2007 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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