Waqar stresses on positive mindset after 'distraction'
Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis has said his team is ready for the challenge ahead and will make their presence felt in the World T20, despite recent setbacks after the uncertainty of their participation in India.
Pakistan's departure was delayed by three days after failing to get the required security clearances, which finally came on March 11 after lengthy deliberation between the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Indian government. The decision came after being assured of special security measures for Pakistan's team while in Kolkata, the venue for their match against India on March 19.
"I am happy that things have settled down," Waqar told ESPNcricinfo. "It could have been a big loss for world cricket if Pakistan was not part of the World T20. Uncertainty obviously isn't an ideal way to start a campaign but after some hiccups in the last few days, we managed to pull ourselves. We want to think good at this stage, leaving all the negative thoughts aside and right now we are in good spirits and we are ready for such a big tournament.
"Such things are not new to us, as we faced worse situation in 1999 and I was myself part of that team and we played well regardless of whatever the situation was. So we all are in a positive frame of mind and such negative things can prove positive for us. It might have caused some distraction but we are going to play cricket. We are going there to represent our country and the good thing is that we are eventually going and we will make our presence felt there with our performance."
Pakistan have had little time to prepare after a poor showing in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh, where they won two out of four games, losing to India and Bangladesh. The failure of the batting line-up led the Pakistan selectors to replace Ahmed Shehzad for Khurram Manzoor for the World T20. Waqar, whose own future is uncertain with his contract set to expire in two months, stressed on the importance of a positive mindset going into a major tournament.
"I think the aggression is missing in our batting, they need to come out, play positive cricket and not shy away from taking risks," Waqar said. "I have been motivating them and even the great Mohammad Ali said, 'He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life'. So players like [Shahid] Afridi and the entire team should understand their role and go out with a positive frame of mind thinking they have nothing to lose. Most of them know they have to perform because onus is on them now.
"We played badly in Bangladesh but now we have to support them and encourage them. We have to motivate them, stand behind them. This is no time to discourage them by showing their stats and what they have done recently. It's time to look ahead rather then pushing them back. I want the players to think and realise how important the flag on their chest is. It's not like they haven't done it in past but they have to believe that they are good and play selflessly. I am optimistic that we will bring a good result this time."
Waqar said the pitches in India would suit their batsmen, and Pakistan would be a force with their potent bowling attack. "I have a strong belief that pitches in India are going to be much better to bat on and if we get the runs on the board, I don't see why we can't win. Our bowling, as we all know is the best. Even the other teams and the international media have rated it high. I know we have to come hard and we have to play brave cricket. We can't sit back, but we have to go out and make things happen and I don't believe we can't do that."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson