Shadab’s absence is a big blow to Pakistan: Ahmed

Former Pakistan leg-spinner believes that this will impact team’s combination

Shadab’s absence is a big blow to Pakistan: Ahmed PHOTO: FILE

Former Pakistan cricketer Mushtaq Ahmed has said that the absence of leg-spinner Shadab Khan will negatively impact Men in Green’s team combination, ahead of the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup in England and Wales. 

While talking to Cricket Pakistan in an exclusive interview, Ahmed was hopeful that Khan, who is out of action since suffering from a virus, will be fit in time for the mega event.  

“Shadab’s absence is a big blow to Pakistan but hopefully he will be fit in time for the World Cup. The team management must be worried because they had formed a nice team combination,” said Ahmed. “He has the ability to pick up wickets in the middle overs while also possessing a good googly.”

He added: “If you notice Sarfaraz also relies heavily on Shadab and is quick to bring him onto bowl when the team needs a wicket.”

Speaking about Khan’s replacement, fellow leg-spinner Yasir Shah, the 48-year-old said that Shah has the ability to excel in limited-over formats but he has to improve his googly for that to happen.

“I think Yasir has the potential to become a good shorter-formats bowler if he improves his googly because once he does that he will become a match-winner for Pakistan,” he said. “He has all the other weapons, flipper, leg-spinner and top-spinner, in his repertoire along with an excellent line and length.”

Speaking about Pakistan team’s World Cup chances, Ahmed was more concerned with the team’s bowling credentials as compared to batting.

“I’m not too concerned about Pakistan’s batting because there is a good blend of young and experienced players in the squad,” he said. “But there is lack of experience in our bowling, Junaid Khan has not developed into a pace spearhead while Hasnain and Shaheen will need guidance throughout, which is why a lot will depend on how Sarfaraz marshals his troops.”

Ahmed, who will be serving as West Indies’ spin bowling coach during the World Cup, also spoke about the opportunity of working with the Caribbean side.   

“I had offers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and West Indies but I opted for the Caribbean side because I felt that I could make a difference there,” he said. “You are right in saying that PCB delayed the decision to extend my contract but they have their own policy and I have nothing against them. Also I think that I was unable to make a difference with the side so it was better to move on.”

He also spoke about the amount of young spinners in junior levels of Pakistan cricket.

“There are many good off and leg-spinners at junior levels but PCB needs to understand that it takes time to nurture them. Unless there is a proper vision in place, it will be difficult to bring good spinners to the fore,” he said.

Ahmed also shared his opinion on the proposed changes to Pakistan’s domestic cricket.

“I think we need to understand the structure that is being put into place. Yes, it’s true that players will lose jobs but that does not mean that the regional structure won’t benefit them, albeit in the future,” he said. “I think this regional domestic cricket structure will rebuild the confidence in our domestic cricket and players will come into reckoning, only on merit.”