Pakistan in worst shape for 30 years: Waqar Younis

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis believes recent off-field controversies have inflicted the worst damage in three decades on the team.

updated: June 09, 2010 12:51 IST
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Pakistan coach Waqar Younis believes recent off-field controversies have inflicted the worst damage in three decades on the team.

But the former fast bowler was also keen to look to the future as Pakistan prepares for this month's Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.

"I think what has happened in the last three months, it has damaged the team more than it did in the last 25-30 years," Younis told reporters in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday.

"Now it's the time to look forward and see how we could perform well and win international matches."

It has been a turbulent 2010 for Pakistan cricket.

Last month, a leaked video showed players and officials accusing each other during an inquiry that resulted in seven players being banned and fined for ill discipline and poor performance on Pakistan's winless tour of Australia earlier this year.

An arbitrator then removed the indefinite ban on Younis Khan and lifted a one-year suspension on Shoaib Malik while revoking a fine given to Shahid Afridi and reducing fines on Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal and Malik.

Pakistan selectors responded by recalling former captain Malik for the Asia Cup. They also included injury-prone fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar in the squad and called up three uncapped batsmen in Shazaib Hasan, Umar Amin and Asad Shafiq.

The selectors did not consider Khan for the Asia Cup, although his indefinite ban was lifted last week. Another former captain, Mohammad Yousuf, has retired from international cricket and he did not appeal against his indefinite ban.

"They are great players," Younis said.

"But I think it's the right time to indulge new players, and I believe Umar and Asad are no doubt very talented and have a bright future.

"We have not won anything significant over the last two three years, but with youngsters in the side we have a hope to get back on a winning track."

Akhtar has not played international cricket for more than a year due to several fitness problems, but got a vote of confidence from his coach.

"He is fit, but I know it's not easy to make a comeback because I have gone through this when I used to play international cricket," Younis said.

He added that Akhtar would not be rushed back, that he will try to "blend him slowly back into international cricket."

Afridi, the captain who will lead the test team against England and Australia in the coming months, said he had a balanced side for the four-nation Asia Cup, which includes India, Bangladesh as well as host Sri Lanka.

"Even Bangladesh is a good team, but I think we have a good combination of spinners, fast bowlers and batsmen to give a good competition," Afridi said.

Afridi, who led Pakistan to the Twenty20 World Cup semifinals in May before losing to Australia, hoped the players would be disciplined and committed.

"It (effort) is something which is in our hands and I am quite confident for the Asia Cup," he said.

Pakistan leaves for Sri Lanka on Saturday and opens its campaign against Sri Lanka on June 15.