Karachi: The presence of former Pakistan spinner, Saqlain Mushtaq in the West Indies camp has made the Pakistan management and players uneasy ahead of a clash between the two teams in the ICC World T20 which is expected to decide the semifinals line up.
Saqlain, 37, who took 208 Test and 288 one-day wickets for Pakistan has been working with the West Indies board as spin consultant and is with the West Indies team in Bangladesh. His role has so far got praise from West Indian spinners, Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine.
And in return, Saqlain who has also worked with the Bangladesh and New Zealand teams has described Badree and Narine as world class operators.
Badree said Saqlain had a calming influence on the team and that helped their performance.
“To be honest, Saqi has been a wonderfully calming influence on the team. He is one who does not get worked up or anxious over any situation. He does not panic at all and has a calming influence on us,” Badree said ahead of the match against Australia that his team won on Friday.
Sources in the Pakistan team said that having played with Saqlain for a long time, head coach, Moin Khan was aware the influence the former off-spinner could have on the coming match.
“Moin has been advising his players to pay a lot of respect to the West Indian spinners because of Saqlain’s presence and has pointed out that with conditions helping slow bowlers in Bangladesh they must be well prepared for the coming match,” one source told PTI.
“Moin is also aware that Saqlain could play a big role in helping the West Indians tackle the Pakistani spinners particularly, Saeed Ajmal and Zulfiqar Babar competently,” he added.
Saqlain, who is seen as a trend setter and was perhaps the first off-spinner to fully master the “Doosra” delivery, said he was a professional and his primary job as spin consultant was to see the West Indian spinners deliver their best against any opponent.
“Yes, I am a Pakistani and obviously I follow Pakistan cricket and love to see them do well. But as a coaching professional when West Indies plays Pakistan in the tournament it will be my job and wish to see Badree, Narine and the other spinners do well and help the team win,” Saqlain said.
Saqlain said he was now enjoying the challenge of coaching bowlers for T20 cricket as the format brought out the winning streak in every player.
“When we played I went in with the desire to win and to win I knew I had to do well. That passion remained with me till the end. Today I see that sort of passion missing in some of the bowlers and in T20 cricket it is needed the most for bowlers,” Saqlain told a Pakistani television channel.
The off-spinner, who rued that the Pakistan cricket Board had never tried to utilize his experience and coaching skills, said more than in any other format T20 cricket required the bowlers to be remain calm and composed at all times.
He said he was expecting a close match between the two teams. “As a spinner it is great to see the slow bowlers dominating this tournament. Because in T20 cricket you still require lot of skill and a calm presence to deliver under pressure when the batsmen have lot of things in their favor,” he said.