Pakistan focussed on cricket - Alam
Pakistan will be focused on the cricket and not distracted by the spot-fixing controversy, team manager Intikhab Alam has insisted. The Pakistan squad arrived in New Zealand today for a tour that includes three Twenty20s, two Tests and six ODIs. Alam said the team was geared up for the challenge even as three of its former members - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - are under investigation for their alleged involvement in the spot-fixing controversy, and await their fate upon the conclusion of their hearing before the ICC's anti-corruption tribunal, to be held in Doha between January 6-11. All three have been provisionally suspended pending the result of the investigation.
"Everybody's been briefed, everybody's very clear in their minds what is expected from management, what is expected from the players as well. I have no doubt in my mind we cannot afford any more such unfortunate incidents," Alam said. "They understand what we expect from them, what the country expects from them, what the board expects from them."
Pakistan served up an impressive performance against South Africa in their previous assignment in the UAE, drawing the two Tests and leveling the ODI series 2-2 before losing the decider. However, the tour was marred by the abrupt departure of wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider, who fled to the United Kingdom - where he has sought asylum - citing threats to his life and to his family.
"South Africa's probably one of the best teams at the moment, so it was a morale booster after all that we went through," Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, said. "We've played some decent cricket in the one-dayers as well as in the Test matches. We never got into a position of winning any Test matches but we showed some guts and made sure we managed some draws."
The hosts, meanwhile, have had a torrid run in ODIs, losing 11 consecutive games, including successive series defeats away to Bangladesh and India, to leave their preparation for the 2011 World Cup in shambles. "It's always been a tough time for them on the subcontinent and this time they didn't really play the best of their cricket," Waqar said. "This is an opportunity for us also but we don't really want to forget that New Zealand in their own country, they are a very fine side. We've got to make sure we do the basics right and try to win the maximum we can."
Pakistan begin their tour with a warm-up game in Auckland on Thursday before the three-match Twenty20 series gets underway at Eden Park on Boxing Day.