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We're not playing a bowler short

Aqib believes all-rounder Abdul Razzaq can win matches for the team even from hopeless positions.

COLOMBO: Pakistan assistant coach Aqib Javed has defended team selection, brushing aside claims that the side is playing one bowler short in order to bolster its temperamental batting.

With the openers not in the best of touches, Pakistan’s batting goes down to number eight with all-rounder Abdul Razzaq coming in then. However, given the batting strength Pakistan choose, it forces them to miss out on a bowler and make Razzaq and part-time spinner Mohammad Hafeez finish off the fifth bowler’s quota.

“No team goes in with five specialist bowlers,” said Aqib. “What people are forgetting is we’re not playing three specialist bowlers but we have four. Shahid Afridi, despite his all-rounder tag, is a specialist bowler and when we sit down and pick four bowlers, his name is the first we put on the list.

“We then pick an all-rounder, a bowler who can bat and Razzaq comes under that  category.”

Criticism has also been levied on the management who have failed to work out a perfect batting order. With a heavy middle-order, it is often the case that Umar Akmal, Afridi and Razzaq come in towards the end of the innings and are unable to stamp their authority on the innings and put on a big score. Consequently, Razzaq’s role in the side has been very minimal – facing only a few deliveries and not bowling his full quota.

“An all-rounder’s role is very difficult. You bat at number eight, you bowl four to five overs. Razzaq is a utility player and he’s a type of batsman who can win you matches that you’ve lost by the time he comes in. It won’t happen daily but you need such people in the team. It also adds depth to the bowling.”

The seven-wicket win over Zimbabwe was Pakistan’s first successful run-chase in World Cups since their win over New Zealand in the 1999 edition. Considering the batsmen-heavy playing-eleven, the team’s policy has been to bat first and pile up a big total. However, with dew playing an important role under lights, Aqib confirmed that the spinners are being trained to counter the wet ball effect.

“The pitches here are very good and you need these in limited-overs cricket. There’s bounce, spin and seam right from the start. However, in the second innings, dew plays an important role and we’ll be looking out for that. We’re giving a wet ball to the spinners in the nets to train them and that’s the least we can do while training.”

Pakistan take on Australia on Saturday in a match that will determine the final standings of Group A.