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Mani backs Pakistan to do well at 2019 World Cup

PCB Chairman believes that ODI series loss against Australia won’t impact team’s performance

PHOTO: AFP

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani has backed Men in Green to do well during the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup in England and Wales.

While talking in an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, the 74-year-old was also optimistic about team’s chances at the mega event, despite losing the ongoing ODI series against Australia.

“Pakistan team’s performance against Australia won’t impact our World Cup campaign,” said Mani. “As seen from the Champions Trophy in 2017, it is quite clear that Pakistan team can overpower any side in world cricket. Teams will get chance to prepare for World Cup through series against England. If we hit our stride, there is a good chance for us to win the title.”

Mani was also not too bothered with the possibility of Indian team refusing to play Pakistan, during the upcoming mega event.  

“India does things like this for exhibition. The dangerous part of this is that the CoA of the board is in cahoots with the politicians. They talk rubbish,” he said. “The attitude of the people working in BCCI is completely different. We have a good relationship with them and are in constant contact. I respect them too.”

He was optimistic of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh cricket teams visiting Pakistan in the near future.

“We are hopeful of hosting Sri Lanka in the near future and I’m in contact with the islanders personally. There issue is sensitive because it was there team that came under attack in Lahore in 2009,” he said. “We have a series with Bangladesh according to the future tours program. We are talking with them as well.”

The former ICC President also stressed on the need for a better domestic cricket structure.

“The weaknesses in our national side stem from a poor domestic cricket structure,” he said. “In our new system, we will try to fix all these issues because our performance internationally is closely linked to the way we carry ourselves in domestic cricket.”

He further stated: “In our new domestic setup, departments don’t develop players which is why their role will be restricted to sponsoring regions.”    

Speaking about the proposed changes in domestic setup, Mani said that it would not affect the income of cricketers.

“It is wrong to state that our new domestic structure will hamper players financially,” he said. “Players of our Test side play for department and how can they be deprived of income?”

However Prime Minister Imran Khan recently rejected a proposal for domestic changes in the PCB.

It was rumoured that an altercation took place between a PCB official and Imran Khan. The chairman quashed these rumours by saying that we have very open conversations with Imran Khan and exchange of ideas is key in these meetings.

“Khan does not get angry at any ideas. I have been working with him for a long time and never witnessed him getting angry,” he said. “Me and Khan have been at this discussion from the start. I talk about eight teams while Khan wants six. We are both looking at the implications. The final goal for these changes is to make a system that cannot be manipulated in the future.”

The PCB chief also backed the decision to rest majority of Pakistan’s key players, including captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, for the series against Australia — bearing in mind the World Cup.  

“Team management came up with logical points in relation with resting players for the series, ahead of the World Cup,” he said. “We did not want to take risk of a potential injury to our players. We need fully fit and ready players for mega event.”

He added: “Pacer Hasan Ali himself came and asked to be rested for the series as his speed was going down due to excessive cricket.”

Opener Abid Ali, who scored a century on debut during the fourth ODI against Australia, and wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, who has scored two tons in the series so far, have also impressed the PCB Chairman.  

“Abid Ali was not able to get an opportunity but once he got one he made it count,” he said. “Also Rizwan has showed that he can also play in the side as a batsman.”

Mani termed the complete holding of Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Pakistan as a major challenge.

“This task will not be easy. We will have to work very hard. In the past the stadiums of Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad have not been adequately cared for,” he said. “The work is a lot but we hope we will be successful in hosting the entire PSL in Pakistan.”

About the recently concluded PSL edition Mani said: “The support of the Sindh government enabled us to hold eight instead of five in Karachi. The UAE grounds were empty, Karachi had packed houses with an exciting atmosphere.”