Mohsin hints at wanting to coach Pakistan full time
Mohsin Khan, Pakistan's interim coach, has dropped a veiled hint that he would like to be formally considered for the coaching job on a permanent basis after Pakistan beat England by 72 runs in Abu Dhabi and took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-Test series.
Moshin and his captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, have been widely acclaimed for bringing stability and contentment to a Pakistan dressing room so often riven by conflict, but while Pakistan have added England to their list of scalps in their adopted home in the UAE, the PCB has been openly engaged in finding Mohsin's successor.
Dav Whatmore is widely viewed as the favourite for the job. He met with board officials in Lahore a fortnight ago immediately after Mohsin left for the UAE with the Pakistan squad. He was taken to the National Cricket Academy and held talks with the PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf. An appointment is predicted at the end of the one-day series.
Mohsin, asked directly whether he wanted the job full-time after adding a series win against England to successes against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, gave a cryptic reply. "What Mohsin Khan is today is because of Pakistan and Pakistan cricket," he said. "My services are always there for my country but I don't want anybody to take me for granted.
"People were saying that performing well against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh was nothing great, okay agreed, but to perform against England, whether they are No. 1 or not, is always creditable."
If Mohsin does not gain the job full time, he at least expects his candidature to be taken seriously. He took temporary charge earlier this year after Waqar Younis stood down for health reasons. He was among the 30 people who applied for the job, but Ashraf reportedly said he was not qualified to assume the role on a full-time basis.
Mohsin also said he had been the chief advocate of the selection of Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali, two young players whose maturity in Pakistan's second innings set up their platform for victory in Abu Dhabi.
"I was the one who selected them because a year and a half back when I became chairman of the selection committee we picked up these two youngsters and I felt they were very talented," he said. "All the credit goes to the boys because they played well under tough conditions.
"We were hoping for a lead around 225 or 230 but we finished up with much less than that. But I have a lot of belief in these players of mine. I said to my boys if we play proper and disciplined cricket we can get them for 100. It was to give a morale-booster to the boys. I think England went a little bit on the defence, though I am not telling them what they should have done."
Pakistan yearn for the time when they can stage home Tests again but in a curious way perhaps neutral territory has suited them. Had they gone 1-0 up in Pakistan the temptation would have been to try and create two dead pitches to escape with draws in the last two Tests. Instead, the Sheikh Zayed pitch provided a compelling contest and Pakistan emerged victorious.
"Whenever you play in conditions you are not used to, you face some difficulties," Misbah said. "When we go to England there are difficulties for us. The confidence our team has gained in the last 18 months is also a big factory. They now believe in themselves.
"Any team batting last on this surface would find it difficult. The way the ball was turning it was hard to play the spinners, so we thought 'we can put pressure on England, let's have a try.' Just bowl wicket to wicket, that is the key here. Some balls were turning, some skidding on and it was really difficult for the batsmen to guess what was happening."
Pakistan used to be forever asked about spot-fixing. Now they are forever asked if it time to stop talking about spot-fixing. Cricket will not forget so easily but Misbah is convinced that it is time to move on. "It should be," he said. "Just concentrate on what is happening now. Both teams are playing good cricket in a good atmosphere. Nothing is happening. That's really good for cricket."
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo