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It's Sad We Are Not Playing Cricket Any More In Pakistan, Says Waqar

Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 26: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis says the lack of  cricket internationals at home is a major hurdle to his young team's hopes of climbing up the international cricket rankings.“It's tough. It's
PTI May 26, 2011 15:46 IST

Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 26: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis says the lack of  cricket internationals at home is a major hurdle to his young team's hopes of climbing up the international cricket rankings.

“It's tough. It's never easy. We're always touring and playing on different surfaces and we don't know the pitches and conditions,” he said on Wednesday.

“It's very difficult to adjust every month or so. It's four (overseas) venues I've done in less than a year. You need to play home to get the confidence of the youngsters. That's not happening so what we're trying to do is taking the youngsters on the tour and trying to prepare them, which is the hardest part in cricket.”

Waqar admitted it was difficult to predict a swift return for international tours to his country but was hopeful.

“It's not safe, we all know that. There is nothing hidden about it,” he said. “We're really sad about it.

“I, personally, wanted cricket to go back to the country and it was getting there, things were starting to move in that direction.

“But then something or the other happens in a month or two months time so the whole thing goes back to square one. Let's hope for the best and hopefully, in six months or a year's time, things will settle and we can take cricket back to our country.”

Waqar said he was pleased with the way his team bounced back after losing the opening test in Guyana and spoke highly of his inexperienced batting unit.

“There has been talk in Pakistan that we are not really batting well, we're not really scoring runs. It's good to see guys getting hundreds,” the former fast bowler said.

“We haven't had many hundreds in the past couple of years, and it's good to see Taufeeq (Umar) in good nick and Misbah (ul-Haq) getting runs.

“That's a plus. The boys have started knowing how to score runs and on difficult pitches.”

Taufeeq topscored with 135 and captain Misbah struck an unbeaten 102 in the second innings to anchor Pakistan's charge to victory in St. Kitts.

Pakistan's only individual century in 11 previous tests in the last year had been veteran Younis Khan's 131 not out in Dubai last November.

Younis missed the tour of West Indies due to a death in the family but returns to the team for two one-day internationals against Ireland in Belfast on Saturday and Monday.

Waqar was happy to welcome back the veteran but was more reserved on the status of Mohammad Yousuf, the 36-year-old veteran of 90 tests who boasts an average of 52.29.

“Mohammad Yousuf is on the wrong side of the 30s so we have to think hard,” he said. “He is a fine player, no doubt he's served the country for a long time. If he's 100 percent and fit, why not?”

Yousuf was playing county cricket in England for Warwickshire and has not appeared in international cricket since last November.

Waqar also squashed rumors about a rift between him and Shahid Afridi, who was replaced as one-day captain for the Ireland series and has since withdrawn from the squad.

“Misbah is great character. I am not saying that Afridi is not because he's done a really wonderful job in the last six to eight months he's been captain,” Waqar said.

“I don't have any problem with anyone. It is sad how things are being written and all the issues being printed. We want to improve cricket and this is what we get. It is not fair, I guess.”

Pakistan's second-test victory over West Indies on Tuesday secured a drawn series and ensured it stayed in sixth position, one spot ahead of the Caribbean men.

In the past year, Waqar's charges have played “home” test series against Australia in England and against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates while also facing away series against England, New Zealand and West Indies.

As no test sides have wanted to tour Pakistan since terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka team in Lahore more than two years ago, the team hasn't had a choice but to hit the road. AP