LAHORE: Pakistan coach Moin Khan is not worried about his short-term contract. Good performances by the team over the next seven weeks, he believes, should earn him an extension. Last week, Moin was appointed for the Asia Cup this month and World Twenty20 next month, both in Bangladesh. After that, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) says Moin will be reviewed. “I don’t have a problem with a short contract,” Moin told reporters here on Tuesday on the first day of a short training camp for the Asia Cup, starting in a week. “Contracts are always performance-oriented and if the team performs well you get the continuation,” he added.
Moin was the captain in 2000 when Pakistan won its maiden Asia Cup title by defeating Sri Lanka in the final in Bangladesh. Fourteen years later, Moin will be in a new role to assist captain Misbahul Haq, who also will be defending the title won in 2012. Misbah joins five other survivors from that two-run victory in the final against Bangladesh; Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal. The presence of these senior pros has given Moin enough confidence to eye a third title against the likes of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and first-timer Afghanistan. “Luckily, it’s almost the same team which played last time,” Moin said. “I know this team is capable of winning us the Asia Cup again.” Pakistan face Sri Lanka on the opening day of the tournament, which also includes India and Afghanistan. The team will fly to Dhaka on February 22.
Moin pipped Waqar Younis for the coach position after Australia’s Dav Whatmore quit last month when Pakistan drew the Test series against Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates. Moin played in Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup-winning team, and was captain in 1995 and 2000 for short periods. He’s been the manager for the last six months. “I know the technical problems of the players and I know their psyche as well,” he said. “I am quite confident that it will help me in shaping up the team well.”
The selectors have persisted with young players and have yet again ignored the experienced Younus Khan for the Asia Cup. Younis, who retired from T20s after leading Pakistan to the World Twenty20 title in 2009, has not played in the 50-over format since competing against South Africa a year ago. The coach has backed young middle-order batsmen Sohaib Maqsood and Akmal along with openers Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad to give the batting enough strength in the Asia Cup. “There’s no doubt about Younis, but right now we are taking this combination,” Moin said. “If Younis performs continuously in domestic cricket and there’s any gap in the batting lineup, he could easily make a comeback.”
The selectors surprisingly reverted to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and allrounder Shoaib Malik for the World Twenty20 despite giving both players chances in the past without much success. But Moin backed the decision to recall both players. “Kamran Akmal was one of the options I had seconded,” Moin said. “If a batsman fails Kamran can deliver at the top order and in the middle order, too. We won’t use him as a fielder, we will use him as a wicketkeeper-batsman whenever he is required.” The World Twenty20 runs from March 16 to the final on April 6.
It is all very well to try and tell yourself captaining your country in an ICC Cricket World Cup is ...