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Waqar foresees bright future for young squad

26 July, 2010

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LEEDS (England): Pakistan coach Waqar Younis predicted a bright future for his young side after they rid themselves of one of the most unwanted records in cricket by at last winning a Test match against Australia.

And former captain Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal warned England to be on their guard when a four-Test series gets underway at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

Pakistan beat Australia by three wickets in the second Test at Headingley here on Saturday to level their two-match series at 1-1.

Victory, which came after several nervy moments, was Pakistan’s first Test win over Australia in 15 years and ended a run of 13 straight defeats at this level by the Aussies — a record sequence for one country against another.

“It’s fantastic to beat Australia,” fast bowling great Waqar, a member of the last Pakistan team that tasted a Test victory over Australia, at Sydney in 1995, said.

“I think this is a new beginning for a young team and let’s hope this bunch of youngsters will take Pakistan cricket a long way,” he added.

Pakistan dismissed Australia for a paltry 88 on the first day – Australia’s lowest Test total for 26 years since being skittled out for 76 by a formidable West Indies pace attack at Perth in 1984.

They then made 258 in reply to establish a first innings lead of 170 – an advantage Waqar said was crucial to the outcome.

“Getting Australia out for 88 and then taking a first innings lead was the turning point,” said Waqar, who took over as coach after Pakistan’s winless tour of Australia earlier this year.

Pakistan arrived on a near three-month trip with a youthful squad after senior batsmen Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan were not selected following fines and bans imposed after the Australia tour.

Their woes multiplied further when captain Shahid Afridi quit Test cricket soon after the 150-run defeat against Australia in the series opener at Lord’s.

Salman Butt, promoted from vice-captain, became his country’s seventh skipper in three years, and led a mostly raw team to victory at Headingley.

“Youth is all exuberance and these players showed the will to do well,” said Waqar, who took 373 wickets Tests and 416 one-day wickets.

“But all praise aside, the fans will have to be patient as this team will learn with the passage of time and experience.”

Meanwhile, Asif Iqbal was excited by the progress of a Pakistan side in which 18-year-old left-arm quick Mohammad Aamir, who took Test best match figures of seven for 106 at Headingley, has emerged as the standard-bearer.

“I see it as a new era for Pakistan cricket,” said Asif, who played 58 Tests for Pakistan from 1964-1980.

“Salman had a dream start, so I hope the Pakistan Cricket Board will persist with this squad and assure the captain that come what may he will remain at the helm.”

Asif, a regular for English county side Kent in their successful team of the 1970s, insisted England could not take Pakistan lightly after their success at Headingley in Leeds, northern England.

“Before the tour started, the England coach and captain would have been thinking Pakistan would be a cake-walk for them,” Asif said.

“But after the Leeds Test they will have to change their mindset and planning,” he added.

“Pakistan’s win over Australia will spice up the England-Pakistan series.”

Pakistan play four Tests, two Twenty20 and five One-day Internationals against England during a tour which ends on Sept 22.

End.


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