Pakistan must beat top sides to regain confidence: Waqar

NAPIER: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis on Wednesday targeted big-hitting South Africa, saying his team must beat a strong outfit to prove they belong at the World Cup.

54f75a656ff41Pakistan expectedly made short work of the United Arab Emirates in their Pool ‘B’ game with an emphatic 129-run win to increase their tally to four points in as many games.

They now play South Africa in Auckland on Saturday in a crunch match in which their qualification for the quarter-finals will largely depend.

Waqar said the two wins after two losses — the first win was against Zimbabwe on Sunday — gave the team much-needed confidence.

“Look it [win] definitely changed the body language of the players because a win always make you feel comfortable and confident, but I still feel that we need to win against a bigger team like South Africa to tell the world that we are around,” said Waqar.

Waqar agreed Pakistan were not looking as commanding as South Africa who have posted back-to-back 400-plus totals in their last two wins.

“Maybe you might be thinking that we are not playing well but we are missing two of our key players,” said Waqar of suspended duo of Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez.

Hafeez also injured his calf before the World Cup and returned home to be replaced by Nasir Jamshed.

“The tournament will get tougher and tougher and we should be ready for that,” added Waqar.

“Of course we can, we have done it in the past, it’s not asking too much and we have beaten South Africa in South Africa,” said Waqar of Pakistan’s 2-1 one-day series win over the Proteas in late 2013.

Waqar, under whom Pakistan finished as semi-finalists at the 2011 World Cup, said his team was capable of picking up steam. “I think the crucial game will be against South Africa not only for qualifying but also for a morale booster. We need to beat a top team to get our confidence back.”

Waqar said the two wins over Zimbabwe and the UAE had restored belief. “Of course I am relieved, there is no doubt about that but the tournament is still open and we are keen to do well and this win will give us a boost and positive thinking for the next games.”

Waqar agreed Pakistan should have won by at least 150 runs against the UAE but paceman Mohammad Irfan’s injury affected the progress.

“We should have won by more runs but not having Irfan affected us. We wanted to improve the net run-rate which is also very important but they also batted well,” said Waqar.

Meanwhile, Waqar has urged the ICC and other cricketing countries to return to playing matches in the strife-torn nation.

Pakistan have not played a series at home since February 2009 when the Sri Lanka team bus was attacked in Lahore.

“Pakistan need teams to come to Pakistan,” the former fast bowler said.

“That’s what the ICC and world cricket can do to help us out by restarting cricket back in Pakistan. It is a huge loss that cricket is not being played in Pakistan and of course you can see the symptoms. That’s the help we can ask for from the cricketing world.”—AFP

Irfan injury not serious

NAPIER: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis erased doubts over the fitness of spearhead Mohammad Irfan who was injured during the World Cup win over the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.

“I don’t think it’s a major concern,” said Waqar after the match. “He has an issue with his gluteus and it’s an old problem.

“Irfan will be fine in the next couple of days and will play against South Africa [on Saturday].”