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It will be tough to replace Akhtar, says Waqar

KARACHI: Pakistan will find it tough to replace Shoaib Akhtar, national coach Waqar Younis said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters at a reception here at the Chief Minister House, Waqar Younis also declared that the upcoming tour of West Indies will be a test for his team, especially for the squad’s younger members.

“He (Shoaib Akhtar) was a great bowler and will be missed. It would be tough to find a good replacement of such a bowler,” said Waqar, himself a legendary fast bowler.

Waqar was in Karachi to attend a reception hosted by Sindh’s Chief Minister to honour Pakistan’s team which reach the last-four stage of the World Cup.

Pakistan lost to old rivals India in the World Cup semifinal but the national players are still being rewarded for what many believe was a good showing in the 14-nation spectacle.

On Friday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah gave Rs500, 000 to each of the 15 Pakistan players who represented the country in the World Cup at a ceremony that was held at the CM House.

Pakistan are now preparing to leave for the Caribbean islands next week to feature in a series that will include one Twenty20 International, five One-day Internationals and two Tests. National selectors have picked several rookies in the touring party including wicketkeeper Mohammad Salman, middle-order batsman Usman Salahuddin and fast bowler Sadaf Hussain.

“The tour of West Indies will be really important for all the youngsters as it will be a huge test for them,” said Waqar.

“The new players have been selected keeping the future in mind and it is up to them how they avail this opportunity,” he added.

Waqar is confident that Pakistan will do well in West Indies under the aggressive captaincy of Shahid Afridi.

“The boys have developed momentum under Shahid Afridi and I am confident the team will continue to improve in his captaincy,” he said. “We played well in the World Cup and will try to improve during the West Indies tour.”

Waqar rejected the impression that he was against the idea of bringing in Javed Miandad as Pakistan’s batting coach.

“Appointing a coach is PCB’s job and I have no issues if Miandad is given any responsibility.”

Meanwhile, a total of ten Pakistan team players attended the reception along with captain Afridi coach Waqar and team manager Intikhab Alam. Akmal brothers — Kamran and Umar — Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar and Junaid Khan could not attend the event.

Speaking to reporters, Umar Gul, who was omitted from the squad for the tour of West Indies, said that he would be back to his brilliant best soon.

was playing non-stop cricket for several months which is not an easy job for the fast bowler,” said the fast bowler.

“I will return for the Test series against West Indies following a rest for a couple of weeks,” he said.