There is friction among Pakistan cricketers: Intikhab

November 2nd, 2008 - 10:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Shoaib AkhtarKarachi, Nov 2 (IANS) Pakistan’s new cricket coach Intikhab Alam is confident of removing friction among some of his key players to make the team a well-oiled unit.Intikhab, 66, a former Pakistan Test captain, told The News in an interview Sunday that he is fully aware of the friction among the players in the Pakistan team, adding that as coach he will tactfully diffuse the tensions.

Without naming any player, Intikhab said the boys will have to sort out any lingering issues among themselves to emerge as a winning unit.

“One of my biggest tasks as Pakistan coach will be to promote unity among the players,” Intikhab said.

Intikhab was the manager of the Pakistan team that triumphed in the 1992 World Cup in Australia. “There has to be complete harmony in the national team because only then can we achieve the best possible results,” he pointed out.

The News reports that it is an open secret that Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik and senior all-rounder Shahid Afridi share an uneasy relationship while experienced middle-order batsman Mohammad Yousuf also harbours hard feelings against the captain.

Senior players like Afridi, Yousuf and Younis Khan have been openly expressing interest in getting the team captaincy in recent months, which hasn’t gone well with Malik, who is the current skipper.

Comeback fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who was banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for hitting fellow pacer Mohammad Asif with a cricket bat following a training session in South Africa, also has a strained relationship with some of his teammates.

Pakistan’s performance graph has dipped since 2006 when they lost the Test series in England that concluded with the infamous forfeiture of The Oval Test by the tourists led by Inzamam-ul-Haq. Under Inzamam, Pakistan made a humiliating first round exit from the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. Bickering within the players was supposed to be one of the reasons behind team’s poor results.

Pakistan brought in Shoaib Malik as the new captain after the World Cup debacle, hoping that a younger player will prove to be a better leader. But after spending almost 18 months as captain, Malik is largely rejected by pundits as a weak leader who is unable to bring the best out of his players.

Intikhab, however, is optimistic of bringing a positive change. “It will take time, but we will overcome all odds to emerge as a world class team,” he said.

Intikhab is looking forward to the three-match One-day International series that gets underway in Abu Dhabi from next week.

“West Indies are a good one-day side and we will have to play well to win the series in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

Intikhab said Pakistan have played a substantial number of limited overs matches this year and should not be lacking match practice when they take on the West Indies in the series opener next Wednesday.

The Nov 12-16 series will mark the start of a two-year stint for the new coach, who is hoping to be at the helm of a balanced team in Abu Dhabi.

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