March 11, 2002

Waqar brushes aside rumours of disharmony in team

Pakistan captain Waqar Younis brushed aside speculations that there was disharmony among the players saying his team lost because it played poorly.

"There is no disharmony in the team neither am I at odds with the selectors over the selection of the team," Waqar said in a post-match conference while trying to put up a brave face.

"We can't decide by one defeat that the team is not united. I would say the team selected for the match was a unanimous decision and the players did support me," he said, while stressing that the defeat was a result of bad cricket his team played throughout the match.

"I am pretty satisfied with the cooperation of my players. Winning and losing is part of the game," he repeated.

There is disagreement amongst the team management and the captain over the exclusion of Wasim Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq for the Asian Test Championship final.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is to investigate reasons for the defeat and if there is any truth in the reports of disharmony.

Waqar blamed his batsmen and bowlers for not putting up a decent performance. "The batsmen didn't hang in there and failed to build partnerships by losing wicket oneafter another. I think we should have scored 350 to 400 on this track. "Then the bowlers bowled at both sides of the wicket. I think if we had bowled properly, we would have not missed any bowler," he said, referring to controversial exclusion of Wasim and Saqlain, adding: "We spilled chances at crucial stages of the game."

Waqar said one-off Test was always difficult and added that his team had not been playing enough cricket at home to prepare a winning combination. "The series against New Zealand and Australia will provide us a better chance to prepare and bounce back after a poor show since they would be full series."

The Pakistan captain said although it was disappointing to lose the Test, plus points can be picked from the game. "I think the best thing that happened was the return to form of Inzamam-ul-Haq who had a lean period lately. Then I think Shoaib Malik showed a lot of character and discipline by hanging in there."

Pakistan coach Mudassar Nazar, when asked where the team would go from here particularly after losing sixth Test in 14 Tests at home, said: "We will go to Sharjah and I think we are fortunate to go straight there since it is a happy hunting ground for us. We are happy to be going where we are strong."

The former Test opener defended Shahid Afridi and Yousuf Youhana under those conditions.

"I must commend Shahid Afridi for playing a sensible and responsible innings despite being an aggressive batsman. He made one error and paid the price. "As regards Yousuf, his most productive area is between mid-on and mid-wicket. But I think he was foxed by Muttiah Muralitharan when he attempted a similar shot off a delivery that stayed straight."

Mudassar admitted that he was concerned with the openers problem but ruled out sweeping changes in the team for Sharjah.

Waqar and Mudassar were unanimous in saying that Saeed Anwar's absence was badly felt as he was a class act and when firing all guns blazing, the bowlers run for cover.

Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya said he was glad that his team kept the momentum going by winning nine Tests in a row.

"The players did what was expected of them and I am happy that they are realizing their responsibilities. "The plus point of my team is that they have the ability to adjust to the conditions quickly which is so vital to the outcome of the team and performance."

Jayasuriya said the victory was a morale-booster for the team that makes its first-ever full tour to England this summer. He attributed the success to a team effort but singled out Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan for their performance. "It is always essential to post a big total to pressurize the opponents. I think we did exactly that."

He said days when Sri Lankan batting was the strong point of his team were gone. "I think we are as formidable and penetrative in bowling as in our batting."