‘We will have to play tough cricket against Australia; says head coach Saqlain

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By our correspondent

KARACHI: Keeping in view Australia’s tough nature as a Test team in particular Pakistan’s head coach Saqlain Mushtaq on Thursday said that they will have to play tough cricket and execute plans and strategies.
“At the moment Australia are sitting at No1 spot in the Test rankings. They play tough cricket and wherever they go, they go with full preparations. And obviously we have to play tough cricket with them and InshaAllah we are up for that and we are preparing our plans and strategies according to that,” Saqlain told reporters.
“Since 1998 till now Australian team have been ruling the world. At that time they were the best in the world and still they are sitting on the top of the table. And they had a very good series against England. But it’s not that I am just saying for the sack of saying it. They did it. But they are coming to our territory, our country and our environment and InshaAllah we will give our best. We are planning and will play tough cricket against them,” added Saqlain, also former top off-spinner.
He said there will be advantage to Pakistan as hosts but they will be very accurate in their approach.
“There is no doubt that there is always advantage of home series. If it is climate, pitches or environment. But we should also keep in mind that Australia is No1 side and plays tough cricket. We will have to play tough cricket and we will have to execute the plans and strategies. Pray and InshaAlla we will do our best,” Saqlain conceded.
After serving for some period as an interim coach following the resignation of Misbah-ul-Haq, Saqlain has recently been appointed for one year as a head coach. Australia’s Shan Tait will work with him as a fast bowling coach while former Pakistan’s batting guru Mohammad Yousuf will act as a batting coach for the series against Australia, which will carry three Tests, three ODIs and a T20I. Australia are due to arrive in Rawalpindi on February 27. The first Test will begin at the Pindi Stadium from March 4.
Saqlain said that Australia should come to Pakistan with an ‘open heart’ when asked that the visitors will feel security concerns.
“All Pakistan is with Australia and cricket. Everyone wants Australia to come and play with open heart. We are people who welcome the entire world. Look PSL last season also completed and now again PSL is in progress. I think Australia should come with an open heart. And our hospitality is popular in the entire world. When we meet the best cricketers they say that our tour to Pakistan remains the best,” Saqlain said.
“Its a welcome sign for Pakistan that Australia is coming after a long 24 years. And the whole nation is looking forward to the series. The PCB made hectic effort and deserves appreciation and also there was fans support that Australia is coming. I am also thankful to Australia that they are coming to Pakistan after long time. I am sure players and fans are very excited and are looking forward and hopefully it would be a very good series,” Saqlain said.
Saqlain is also optimistic about his spin department for the challenging series.
“Zahid Mahmood has done very well in domestic and Yasir Shah has also done well and he is also part of the party. InshaAllah every thing is seen going in the right direction. I am very much positive about spin department,” Saqlain said.
Saqlain said that they have made the plans and have started working according to them.
“Strategies should not be disclosed. These are confidential. We are planning. When series will begin you will know what were our strategies and plans against Australia. More deliberation is being made on it and has already been done and we are preparing. Officially our camp began from today keeping in view Australia’s team,” the coach said.
“You have to set your targets keeping in view Australian team. And in the light of that our camp began today and when we will go to Pindi, PSL players will also join. Obviously keeping in view Australia’s weak and strong points and our own strength and weaknesses we are making strategies and how to dominate the visitors. We have made all such plans,” Saqlain explained.
He said that the ailing Test opener Abid Ali will be definitely missed.
“Abid Ali has extended outstanding performances in Bangladesh and before that. The nation should pray for him so that he could make a comeback. Obviously, you miss definitely the performers. But the rest of the lot is also Pakistan’s best and they have come to the national team on the basis of their performances and significant contributions. In domestic, too, they have given enough evidences which tell that these players should be given chance at this level. Definitely we will miss Abid,” Saqlain said.