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Mahmood denies pressure ahead of 2019 World Cup

Pakistan bowling coach believes testing bench strength is important ahead of mega event

Mahmood denies pressure ahead of 2019 World Cup PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood has said that there is no pressure on the Men in Green, ahead of 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup in England and Wales.

According to an official press release issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Mahmood said that, although they lost the ODI series against Australia, this is the best time to evaluate team’s bench strength.  

He added that there were a couple of places up for grabs for the World Cup, for which Pakistan have tried some players as potential options.

“We are trying different combinations keeping the World Cup in mind,” said Mahmood. “If we play only our main strength and then someone gets injured, we won’t have any options left. This series is our best chance to test the bench strength. We have one or two spots that are up for the taking.”

He further stated: “We have tried our options and combinations to be certain and clear on who are our bowlers for the available spots and this was the best occasion to try them.”

Pakistan will take on the Windies in the World Cup opener on May 31 at the Trent Bridge in Nottingham. In the lead up to that match, Pakistan will play five 50-over warm-up matches, five ODIs and a T20I (against England). With Pakistan to play a minimum of nine World Cup matches, the green shirts will feature in a minimum of 20 white ball fixtures in the approximately 10-week period.

The 44-year-old also spoke about the possibility of including leg-spinner Yasir Shah in Pakistan’s plans for the mega event.

“We are trying bowlers for the World Cup. We know our main strength is bowling, so we have tried Yasir Shah, just in case we need an additional spinner as a wicket-taking option. When we go to England for the World Cup, the wickets will be drier, so we want to see if we can pick Yasir,” he said.

The former Pakistan all-rounder admitted Pakistan’s lacklustre bowling during the ongoing ODI series against Australia, where they have only taken eight wickets in three matches, was due to unresponsive pitches.

“If you see overall, then we have not taken many wickets. They also did not get wickets and we lost wickets in the final overs [while batting],” he said. “Sharjah wicket did not have any assistance for bowlers. When we scored 280 and 284, they chased down in the 49th and 47th overs, respectively.”

Despite losing the series, Mahmood was glad that the series provided an accurate assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the side.  

“Overall, I think we lost matches but we got to know about the strengths and weaknesses of the bowlers and we will work in the camp on those weaknesses,” he concluded.