Pakistan cricket head coach Misbah-ul-Haq resigned yesterday, citing family concerns and bio-bubble restrictions in a move that leaves team preparations for next month’s World Cup in tatters.
The 47-year-old, who took over as head coach in September 2019, said he had made the decision while undergoing mandatory quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19 following Pakistan’s tour of the West Indies last week.
“The quarantine time provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the past 24 months, future commitments and bio-bubble environment and on considering that I made the decision,” Misbah said in a statement released by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Misbah admitted the timing of his decision – which came as Pakistan named a 15-man squad for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in the United Arab Emirates next month – “may not be ideal”.
“But I don’t think I am in the right frame of mind for the upcoming challenges and it makes sense for someone fresh to step in and take the side forward,” he said. Bowling coach Waqar Younis also resigned yesterday, saying Misbah’s decision had prompted him to step down.
“After Misbah shared with me his decision and future plans, it was a straightforward one for me to resign as we had walked into the roles together, had worked collectively as a pair and now also step down together,” Waqar, a legendary former fast bowler, was quoted as saying in the PCB release.
Misbah, appointed chief selector in 2019 before leaving the post after a year, coached Pakistan in 16 Tests, with the team winning seven, losing six and drawing three.
Under him Pakistan managed to win six of their 11 ODIs, with four losses and one no result, as well as secure 16 wins in 34 Twenty20 internationals, losing 13 and five no results.
PCB said former off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq and allrounder Abdul Razzaq will act as interim coaches for the series against New Zealand starting later this month.
“The team management for the T20 World Cup will be appointed in due course,” the group said.
Local media last week reported the PCB was in talks with former England coach Peter Moores to join ahead of the World Cup.
No place for Malik as Pakistan name World Cup squad
Pakistan selectors yesterday announced a 15-man squad for next month’s Twenty20 World Cup but resisted calls to include veteran allrounder Shoaib Malik despite the team struggling with middle-order batting for two years.
Since Misbah-ul-Haq took over as head coach in September 2019, Pakistan have tried 17 different players in the middle order but none of them succeeded.
That raised calls for the inclusion of 39-year-old Malik, who played the last of his 116 Twenty20 internationals in June 2020, but chief selector Mohamed Wasim said specialists were preferred.
“We have focused on specialist T20 players and have considered the situation of the venues and our oppositions in the event,” Wasim said at a press conference in Lahore.
Pakistan are in Group 2 alongside arch-rivals India, New Zealand, Afghanistan and two qualifier teams to be decided after the first round.
Group 1 comprises defending champions the West Indies, Australia, England, South Africa and two qualifiers.
Pakistan will open their campaign with a high-voltage match against India in Dubai on October 24.
The seventh event of the Twenty20 World Cup will be held in the United Arab Emirates from October 17 to November 14.
Former captain and wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed, allrounder Faheem Ashraf, opener Sharjeel Khan also failed to make the cut but 40-year-old veteran Mohamed Hafeez was included.
Another opener Fakhar Zaman was included in the three reserves who will travel with the squad. They also include pacer Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir.
Misfiring power-hitters Asif Ali and Azam Khan were lucky to be included in the squad. Ali managed just two double figure scores in the last 10 Twenty20 internationals.
Twenty-year-old fast bowler Mohamed Wasim was also included, having impressed in the four Twenty20 internationals he has played so far.
Babar Azam will skipper the squad.
The squad will also feature in the five Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand later this month and in the two T20Is against England on October 14 and 15 before the World Cup.
Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Azam Khan, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohamed Hafeez, Mohamed Hasnain, Mohamed Nawaz, Mohamed Rizwan, Mohamed Wasim Junior, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohaib Maqsood.
Reserves: Fakhar Zaman, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir.
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