Abu Dhabi: Pakistan great Younis Khan fulfilled his long-held ambition of working with the Afghan side by helping them in honing their skills in a 23-day training camp at Abu Dhabi Cricket last month.
“Thank you Abu Dhabi Cricket and UAE cricket; they’re helping Afghanistan cricket. They were helping the Pakistan cricket team for long periods of time, now Afghanistan,” said the Pakistan batter, who worked with Afghanistan Cricket Board as a batting consultant.
Younis Khan knows the Shaikh Zayed Stadium more than most, having scored six international centuries, three half centuries and 1,560 of his 10,099 Test-match runs during his illustrious career. That included a decade-long stint in the UAE where the legendary batter helped Pakistan rise to the No 1 spot in the ICC’s Test rankings for the first time in their history in 2014.
Even he was surprised by the sheer scale of work that has gone into growing the multi sports venue into a world-class sports hub since he last visited as a player in 2016. The former Pakistan captain described Abu Dhabi as the perfect place for Afghanistan players to hone their skills.
He said: “I remember when we played here in early 2000s, there was only one ground and a couple of practice areas, but now it looks amazing, and the Afghanistan Cricket Board is very happy with the facilities. The entire venue is unrecognisable from when I was last here, let alone when I first came to Abu Dhabi all those years ago. I rate the facilities as being up there with the very best in the world and the support we receive from everyone at Abu Dhabi Cricket makes it stand out as an ideal venue for all sports, not just cricket.
“Sometimes it’s hard to play out of your country on a regular basis, but the good thing about Abu Dhabi and UAE is that at least you’ll find some of your own people here and the conditions, especially the weather and the pitches, the grounds, the facilities are similar to Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s like they’re playing almost in their home conditions.”