Abu Dhabi: Batsman Assad Shafiq can ensure a bright future for Pakistan, coach Dave Whatmore declared after a practice session at the Abu Dhabi Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Though disappointed with the first one-day match loss to Australia at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Whatmore believes that the 26-year-old Shafiq and other young guns can help the Pakistanis flourish in years to come. “Shafiq is a very good player and is the future of Pakistan. Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal are also young. So we have some wonderful players,” said Whatmore, who is known for his ability to groom young talent having moulded inexperienced Sri Lankan players into world champions in 1996.
Shafiq and Akmal hit half-centuries in the Sharjah one-dayer earlier this week. However, Whatmore believes that they should also learn to play according to the situation. “Players must be able to read the game properly and, if they can do that, they will be in a much better position to respond with appropriate tactics.”
Whatmore cited one of the glaring mistakes during the Sharjah match as an example of this failing.
“Clearly there was a mistake during the batting power-play when we lost three wickets for 16 runs,” he said.
“It is not just about losing three wickets, but about knowing why they had to lose three wickets and understand what should be done and what shouldn’t be done in critical periods like that in the game.”
The Sri-Lanka born former Australian international is known for his shrewd analysis of the game and even coached the UAE’s Young Talent Cricket Academy’s budding cricketers during a training camp before he joined the Pakistan team as a full-time coach in March. “The sooner these players are able to display an improvement in their thinking, it will be much better for them individually and the team will benefit enormously,” he added.
Whatmore believes that with every match Pakistan can improve. “We were disappointed not to get the points in Sharjah. We made a couple of errors. I think in the second half of the game we fought very well and came reasonably close to defending the poor total. We can improve obviously. We really want to improve with smarter thinking and hope to do that sooner rather than later,” said Whatmore, who believes that the present Pakistan squad is a strong one.
“Teams are strong if they are able to bat deep without compromising your bowling attack.
“That was a very strong Pakistan team, one which could have done better, and we are hoping to rectify that as soon as possible.
“Our spinners did well and their economy rate is very good. We bowled as we were expected to and they did.”
Whatmore also praised Australia’s fighting spirit for their performance in the first one-dayer, which they won by four wickets.
“The Australians played well and we have to take our hats off to them and give credit where credit is due. If we had a few more runs to chase then it would have been a different kettle of fish because then it is a bit more pressure on the chasing team to ensure a certain amount of runs per over is maintained,” said Whatmore.