Waqar salutes Afridi appointment

Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Umar Gul warm up during a practice session AFP

Waqar Younis, the new Pakistan coach, has hailed the appointment of allrounder Shahid Afridi as captain for the World Twenty20 starting next month in the West Indies. The PCB installed Afridi at the helm earlier this week, after initially announcing the squad for the tournament without naming a captain.

"Afridi is an allrounder with a positive frame of mind who had been bowling excellently in last two years," Waqar told Voice of Germany. "His mere presence in the field generates a fighting spirit among the players."

Waqar takes charge during a particularly tumultuous period for Pakistan cricket - several senior players were banned two weeks ago, and there have been persistent murmurs of match-fixing and dressing-room spats. However, he remained confident of a good show in the Caribbean. "Pakistan is capable of defending its title in the presence of Afridi, Razzaq and Akmal brothers."

Pakistan have had four coaches in three years, and with this being Waqar's first official role as head coach at any level, he acknowledged the difficulty of the task ahead for him. "The history of Pakistan cricket tells us that the coaching of the national team is no an easy task," he said. "But someone had to do the job and I dared to accept it and I assured the nation and the Pakistan Cricket Board that I would not disappoint them."

He tried to temper the expectations of the country's passionate fans, and said things couldn't be changed overnight. "I understand that the people of Pakistan are mad for cricket and their sentiments are badly injured when the national team loses but I would ask them that they should curb their emotions and try to understand the circumstances before reacting."

The depth of Pakistan's talent pool excited Waqar, who set his sights on next year's World Cup in the subcontinent. "World Cup 2011 is the real target. I have seen immense talent in Pakistan A and Under-19 teams which needs to be groomed and I am sure that in next few months the things would start moving in the right direction."