It is a lip smacking Pakistan bowling line-up. You’ve got pace, you’ve got variety and you have a seven-footer snaring down the batsman’s throat sending canons on to the pitch from a great height. All of them were on display under a cloudy haze at the practice pitches at Fatullah as the team began its preparations for its first game against India in the Asia Cup. Keeping a close watch on the proceedings was coach Waqar Younis who had the company of newly appointed interim bowling coach Azhar Mahmood. Mahmood has been appointed for the tenure of the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup replacing regular bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed who has been rested for the two tournaments citing fatigue.
Mahmood was in his cheerful self; chit chatting with the bowlers, giving them a few advices, giving that odd smile and getting into intense discussion with Waqar at times. The former Pakistan all-rounder was soaking in every moment of his first day at office. “Today it is my first day and it is a different kind of challenge for me,” Mahmood said speaking to BCCI.TV. “I am enjoying each moment of mine with the Pakistan team and hopefully I can pass on my experience to the younger lot in the line-up. I have played around the world and have enough experience under my belt to help them with little things. I would be more than happy to help them get better in their skill not just from the bowling perspective but batting and fielding as well.”
An experienced campaigner himself having played for Pakistan before and in major T20 leagues across the globe, Mahmood reckoned his major role was to feed the side with all the right advices in Waqar Younis’ company. “These guys have been working hard for the last two years with Waqar Younis. My job is to only pass on my knowledge and skills and give them more confidence when it comes to executing bowling plans.
“They bowl well but there might be times when they miss the right lines and lengths. That is where I come in to help them especially in the T20 format. When you play T20 cricket, you have to cope under a lot of pressure and that is where my role becomes really important. I am working with Shahid Afridi and the rest of the side very closely. I have played with Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Irfan and a few others in the past. These guys are world class bowlers and all I need to do is pass on a bit of knowledge to them.”
Harping more on the Pakistan bowling line-up, Mahmood viewed the pace attack as among the best in the business at the moment that was eager to go one up against India’s batting might on Saturday. “We have one of the best bowling sides in the world and there is no doubt about that. We all know that Mohammad Amir is a proven match-winner and then you add a seven-footer in Mohammad Irfan who has an advantage of height, the pace battery of the side looks really exciting. Not to forget we have Wahab Riaz as well. So, we have Amir’s variety, Irfan’s height and Riaz’s pace which makes for a threatening pace attack. We have all our bases covered in the pace department. We have a line of left-arm quicks and the inclusion of Mohammad Sami only adds to the variety of the attack who can bowl at 145kmph.
They are confident and very much excited to play against a power packed Indian team. There is never a dull moment when India and Pakistan play and the boys are really pumped up and looking forward to the game against India.”