x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Quiet start for Pakistan suits coach Waqar

Coach glad his team able to concentrate on match action in the wake of fixing cloud that engulfed the team before the start.

COLOMBO // While two of the World Cup favourites, Sri Lanka and Australia, have had to douse the flames of corruption controversies, Pakistan have breezed their way through their opening games under the radar.
Australia, the holders, and the Sri Lankans reacted angrily to suggestions that some of their players had been involved in manipulating aspects of matches this week, terming the separate reports "baseless" and "laughable". Whatever substance there is to the rumours, what is certain is the cloud of corruption hanging over cricket is refusing to budge.
Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, believes there is little substance to suggestions the World Cup is anything other than clean.
However, he remains thankful that, for once, it is not his players who have been implicated in the allegations.
"It feels really great," the former fast-bowler said of his side's crisis-free start to the World Cup, ahead of today's game with Canada in Colombo.
"I am glad that Pakistan players are not involved, [but] let's not talk about it. I think the game is pretty fair and the tournament is clean, but it is always a talking point for people these days."
The Pakistan squad in Sri Lanka have refused to be distracted by the ongoing saga surrounding the three players who were suspended from playing cricket for at least the next five years for their part in spot-fixing.
Mohammad Aamer, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif have all confirmed they will be appealing the sanctions meted out to them by the International Cricket Council, at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Waqar insists his side are unconcerned by what is happening to the banned trio, who will appear in court to face criminal hearings in the UK on March 17, just as the group stage of the World Cup is concluding.
"For me, it is not very important if they appeal or if they don't," Waqar said. "I am not really worried about it, I am worried about what is at hand, and that is a huge tournament. Whatever they are doing, good for them. If they get cleared or whatever, it is none of my business.
"The boys just want to do well because of the atmosphere around this tournament. It is not only Pakistan, but all the teams feel the importance of this tournament."
 
pradley@thenational.ae