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Pakistan is now free of controversies: Waqar

KARACHI: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis feels that spot-fixing scandal and disciplinary issues involving the players, which had stained the image of game in the country, were things of the past and said that the national team is back on a winning track.

"I think the most satisfying thing for me right now is that the team now believes in itself and is back on the winning track. I feel our team is now out of this cycle of controversies and is now focusing on its cricket and that is very satisfying for me as coach," Waqar, who completed a year in the office as the coach, said.

"There is always a fear lingering in the mind that our team should not be dragged into another new scandal. We have tried very hard to keep the players away from such issues and just let them focus on their cricket and the results are now showing," Waqar said after his team beat Zimbabwe to enter the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup.

Waqar was appointed coach in March last year after the team's disastrous tour of Australia where they lost all the Test matches besides being hit by a host of disciplinary issues.

"There was a time when I took over as coach and spent most of time in my room out of fear that should I go out and hear some new scandal or controversy about Pakistan team.

"It was a painful period for me when all these controversies kept cropping up one after the another and I was literally avoiding people," the coach said.

Waqar reiterated that it was one of the tough phases of his life and the incident also dented the teams morale.

"I think the time when this spot-fixing scandal broke out it was the difficult period of my life and it was also very difficult for the team itself and it did affect their morale and focus," he added.

The 39-year-old, under whose captaincy the team made an early exit in the 2003 World Cup, said that it was challenge for him to coach the team in the World Cup.

The former captain admitted that he took the coaching job as a challenge and his foremost task was to keep the players united and not run down any individual.

"People tend to get fed up with coaching jobs after a while but I took up this assignment as a challenge and knowing well that if I can transfer my energy and passion to the players things will turn around and that is happening now.

"We have also tried to incorporate a policy of consistency in the team so that every player knows what is expected of him and I am thankful to God that now the results are showing," Waqar said.

He said Pakistan still had a long way to go in the tournament but backed his team to topple Australia in their last group match on March 19.

"If we can beat Australia which we are capable off it would mean a great deal to the players and raise their morale for the knockout stage matches," he said.