SHARJAH: Pakistan cricket team coach Waqar Younis is a satisfied man. His team has completed a five-Test stint in United Arab Emirates with flying colours, winning their first series against Australia for 20 years and leveling the three-Test series with New Zealand 1-1.
In an interview with pcb.com.pk Waqar was full of praise for the team, its captain Misbah-ul Haq, players and Pakistan Cricket Board for keeping exemplary discipline.
"It would have been an icing on the cake if we had not lost the third Test," said Waqar of the final Test in Sharjah which New Zealand won by an innings and 80 runs on Sunday.
"If I analyse the performance of the five Tests here, I find nothing which I could criticize," said Waqar, who played 87 Tests and 262 one-day internationals for Pakistan as one of the spearheads its much-vaunted bowling attack in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Waqar said credit must be given to the players, officials and the PCB.
"I am proud of the way the players performed, the way Misbah-ul Haq led the team and the full backing by the PCB which allowed us to do our jobs with full authority," said the Pakistan coach.
Waqar said Pakistan lost rhythm due to the abandonment of second day's play in the third Test owing of the tragic death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes died after being hit by a bouncer.
"Look, I am not giving any excuse but this is a fact that we lost rhythm the after second day's play was called off," said Waqar of Pakistan sliding from a strong first day's score of 281-3 to 351 all out on day two.
"New Zealand players were not ready to play and when the other side is not ready to play then the other team also lose its rhythm and that happened to us."
Waqar said discipline was the key to Pakistan's good showing.
"I think for five-day games, you need total discipline," said Waqar. "Discipline starts from your hotel room, like how much rest you are taking during a five-day game, then in all three departments – fielding, batting and bowling – you need immaculate discipline and that was displayed by the players and I think the nation should be proud of that."
"This lot of players is capable of keeping that discipline in future."
Waqar hoped PCB and its selection committee would continue to rely on youngsters.
"You need to bring in more and more youngsters in the team, just like India has done in the recent past. You need experience but besides that you need to bring in more and more young ones and PCB has backed us in that and I am sure it will be maintained."
Waqar praised paceman Rahat Ali and the two spjnners – Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah.
"We had a very inexperienced bowling attack but I think Rahat has shown a lot of progress and the way Babar and Shah performed, I think they deserve credit," said Waqar.
Left-armer Babar and leggie Shah took 27 wickets apiece in the five Tests.