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Haroon defends Akram's captaincy in Sharjah

By Our Sports Reporter

20 December 1997

KARACHI, Dec 19: Pakistan cricket manager Haroon Rasheed came for the rescue of Wasim Akram when he said all criticism against the captain was unjustified.

``No captain or coach likes to lose. But one-day cricket is a different ball game and anything can happen. We should now learn to digest defeats instead of holding the skipper by the scruff of his neck,'' Haroon said. ``Akram tried everything but none of the plans worked out.''

Akram is the target of the critics who argue that bad captaincy led to Pakistan's elimination in the league matches.

``The critics say Akram deliberately went ahead of Azhar Mahmood. They have a valid point but probably Akram might have thought that he has played English bowlers in the county championships more than Azhar Mahmood and so he might be more effective.

``The other point is that Wasim Akram had been batting ahead of Azhar Mahmood since the quadrangular tournament.

``There can't be no two opinions, however, that Akram is one of the hardest hitters in the team and had he connected one ball for a six, the result might have been different because we lost by eight runs with six balls to spare,'' Haroon said.

``It is very easy to point fingers when the team loses but the situation in the dressing room is very different as all the players are tense and sitting with their fingers crossed,'' Haroon added.

Haroon emphasised that all the decisions are taken in the best interest of the team but if some of them don't work out that doesn't mean that the captain is incompetent.

Haroon strongly defended Akram's decision of sending Akhtar Sarfaraz and Manzoor Akhtar in the match against England.

``When the two batsmen (Akhtar Sarfaraz and Manzoor Akhtar) went out, the required run-rate was a little under four runs an over. I don't think the required rate was high enough to reshuffle the batting order. ``Even when Sarfaraz got out, it was around 4.6 which could have been achieved. But sadly, we fell short by eight runs.''

Haroon said the critics were belittling the efforts of the English team which played well and bounced back when it seemed Pakistan were racing away with the match.

Haroon emphatically denied that the players were over-confident after winning the Test series against the West Indies.

``It was a different tournament in a different country. The boys knew it,'' he said. However, Haroon said the boys were very tired after a strenuous home season. ``Between Sept 28 and Dec 9, we played six one-day internationals and as many Tests.

``Then, in Sharjah, there were no rest days and we had to play back-to-back matches against India and England. Need not to mention that the match against India was very tough.''

When pointed that the West Indies also had a busy season in Pakistan, Haroon said there was a difference between the two sides. ``The West Indies fielded once in two Tests except for the Karachi Tests where they had to field for five overs in the second innings. On the contrary, we had remained in the field for six complete innings.

``Moreover, the grounds in Pakistan are hard while the surface in Sharjah is soft,'' he stated.

Haroon also denied reports that Aamir Sohail was forcibly made to open the innings against England.

``That's absolutely untrue. It was decided and Aamir knew that he had to open the innings.''

Haroon said there was no question of opening the innings by Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi because Saeed was still feeling the pressure and strain of his other evening's herculean 104 against India.

Haroon admitted that the year had not been very good for Pakistan as it lost six one-day tournaments. ``But if one analyse, in most of the defeats, it is the batting which has let the team down. Bowlers have always done a good job.''

Haroon said one-dayers are won by the batsmen while Tests are won by the bowlers. ``If the batsmen can't score 216 or for that matter 146 (at Faisalabad), what can one do.''

Haroon emphasised that out of the five one-day tournaments, Pakistan were a depleted side in three events. ``In India's Independence Cup, Asia Cup and Sahara Cup, the team lacked experience in the absence of top players who were busy in the English country season.''

Source: Dawn
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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 15:16