November 8, 2012

Dubai: Former Pakistan captain and legendary left-arm pacer Wasim Akram has backed Mohammad Hafeez, who is currently their Twenty20 team captain, to take over as Test captain.

“Misbah-ul-Haq (the present Test team captain) may lead for another year but they (Pakistan Cricket Board) will have to look at making Hafeez Test captain as well. Hafeez looked good as Twenty20 squad captain. If one can support him, he won’t be scared to make changes. He is very talented, a good fielder and is young. However, he needs to work hard on his batting as well.”

When asked whether time was up for Shahid Afridi to hang his boots, Akram told Gulf News: “Afridi can still play as a bowler. He is one of the world’s best bowlers in instant cricket. His variations, quicker ones, googlies and offbreaks are effective and he is still a tremendous fielder. I don’t understand why people are after his batting. His batting was never there as he was always a pinch hitter. He was always on and off with the bat and played one big innings may be after 20 innings. He has been doing exactly that for the last 20 years. I feel he should continue playing.”

Speaking about the oncoming India-Pakistan series, Akram said: “It is indeed awesome that the two countries are playing again. The Indian team is unbeatable in India, especially in the shorter format. Pakistan will have to go there with lots of mental and physical strength. They will have to play without any support.

When I toured India in 1999, when our team was doing well, the crowd used to maintain pin drop silence. Then we knew we had done the job. Akram also hit out at the poor wickets for the World Twenty20 Cup in Sri Lanka and Champions Trophy in South Africa.

“The semifinal wicket for the World Twenty20 Cup was unfair. It reached a stage where if you win the toss you could win the game. They should have had two wickets, one for men and another for women, giving them a fair chance. In the final, the same thing that happened to Pakistan happened for Sri Lanka. They made a turning track and got done in by it.”

Akram, who is the bowling coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders team, attributed the exit of the Indian Premier League teams from the Champions League in South Africa to poor wickets. “The wickets in South Africa were unplayable. I would have loved those wickets as a bowler but as a captain I would have hated it. For Twenty20 cricket, you need to make flat wickets,” he said.

Courtesy: GULF NEWS

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