Waqar Younis walks out of press conference following Pakistan’s win over South Africa

Joy Chakravarty 15:51 07/03/2015
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Pakistan coach Waqar Younis.

Waqar Younis abruptly ended his post-match press conference on Saturday after a Pakistani TV journalist insisted on getting his reaction on an alleged showdown between him and Sarfraz Ahmed as the reason for keeping the wicketkeeper-batsman out of the team.

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Sarfraz was declared Man of the Match for his innings of 49, followed by six catches behind the wickets, in his first match of the tournament. Pakistan experimented with different opening combinations in the first four matches – using Younis Khan and then Nasir Jamshed as Ahmed Shehzad’s partners – but failed to get their innings off to a good start.

On the eve of the match, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq and Waqar had said that the reason they preferred Jamshed ahead of Sarfraz was because they felt the former had a more solid technique for an opening batsman. And because Umar Akmal could also keep wicket, it opened up a slot for the management to go for an extra batsman.

Waqar had finished answering in English but, while replying to urdu questions, lost his cool when the journalist first insisted that there was politics involved in not allowing Sarfraz to play, and that the coach should take the blame for it.

“There is no politics involved. You are the one giving it a political twist. We have a squad of 15, and we have tried to play the best 11,” said Waqar to the first question.

“Why should I take the blame? After all, Nasir Jamshed is also part of the team.”

And when asked for his reaction on an alleged bust-up inside the dressing room between him and Sarfraz, Waqar just smiled and replied: “I think it is time to end the press conference. Because I don’t have any answers for such a stupid question.”

The team has denied that any such incident took place between Waqar and Sarfraz.

Earlier, Waqar said: “Regarding Sarfraz, I never doubted his abilities. We always knew how good he is. It was just regarding his opening that I was talking about the last time around. But he’s done a superb job today.

“You can’t ask for more if someone who is a regular wicketkeeper, and he can keep the wicket and  also opened really well. But don’t forget, Umar Akmal has also done a superb job in the last couple of games. He’s had five catches in the last game he played.

“So, happy with both. They’re both doing a wonderful job. It’s the belief that matters the most, and I think both of them have got the belief with the gloves on. And Umar, of course, is going to be handy in the field also.”

Waqar was obviously delighted with the performance of his bowlers, but did not get critical about the batting, which at one stage looked capable of going close to a total of 300, but eventually set a target of 232 after losing last five wickets for 10 runs.

I think we bowled extremely well. We were right on top of the game. We bowled with gas. We bowled some real pace and with real purpose,” said the coach.

“As for batting, look, you’re not going to get everything, every day. Yes, it was not the best end to the innings, but we needed a good start with the ball and that’s what Irfan provided. We knew we had to get them out to win this game.

“I thought we batted with purpose at the top. We played with aggression. We made use of their fifth bowler. We always knew that they are weak when it comes to the fifth bowler, so we made full use of it. So our plans did work.”

Waqar said the win was a huge boost to their confidence.

I think we still need to win the last game to get to the quarterfinal. But, yeah, we have started playing good, aggressive cricket, which I think Pakistan cricket has been known for in the past,” he added.

“We have started finding the right combination, and people have started believing in themselves. I think this was a key. I’m very thrilled, very happy, but it’s a long way to go.”

Pakistan’s final group match is against Ireland on March 15.

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