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Waqar Younis retains Pakistan captaincy for tour to England

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    Waqar Younis retains Pakistan captaincy for tour to England

    Waqar Younis has been rewarded for his inspirational leadership of a hugely inexperienced Pakistan side in Sharjah by being
    named as captain for the tour to England starting next month.

    The tour comprises a truncated two-Test rubber and subsequently a three-nation one-day series, involving England and
    Australia.

    Though the team is to be named on April 23, the PCB Chairman, Lt. Gen. Tauqir Zia, confirmed that Waqar would be the
    skipper while talking to journalists covering the ARY Gold Cup. His announcement killed speculation that Moin Khan might be
    returning as captain for the England series.

    It appears that Moin may not be joining the team for the trip at all, as the General talked of sending two wicket-keepers on the
    tour, but still didn't mention him as the second possibility. That means that Humayun Farhat too retains his position. Other than
    Atiq-uz-Zaman, the General talked of possibly recalling Rashid Latif, whom he said was doing well enough in domestic cricket
    to merit reconsideration.

    The tournament in Sharjah is the first time that 29-year-old Waqar Younis, veteran of 71-Tests and 208 One-Day
    Internationals, has been handed the reins in his own right, as on the previous two occasions he was either an understudy or a
    stop-gap arrangement. There is not an iota of doubt that he has made the most of this opportunity. Leading from the front, he
    has had a big hand in transforming the fortunes of a side whose morale was so low when he took over after the New Zealand
    series.

    His influence in this revival is so great that Yawar Saeed, the manager who is normally not particularly effusive in praise, says
    that the three best things that have happened to this team, and contributed to its consistency are, team spirit, improved fielding
    standards and the captain.

    And indeed the captain has been responsible for changing the outlook, and the mindset. No longer do you see a defeated look
    about this Pakistan.

    Obviously so keen to skipper the side, the captaincy has come to Younis late in his career. But he still wants to make an impact.
    "It is an honour to be the captain of your country's team. It's a challenge. I am enjoying it, and trying to get the most out of the
    boys. So far they've responded well. I hope this will continue, here in the final as well as in England," Younis told CricInfo.

    This is his last tour to England, the place he calls his second home, and it goes without saying that he wants end on a high note. If
    that happened, Pakistan will have won a fourth series in England on the trot, the first of these being in 1987 under Imran Khan.
    In the remaining two, in 1992 and 1996, Younis had a big hand in Pakistan's series triumph as the England batsmen had
    absolutely no answer to the bowling of the two Ws.

    What remains to be seen is whether Wasim Akram, Younis' great partner in pace, regains fitness and is selected for the tour or
    not. For if he does, it could be a great swansong for the duo, one of the greatest pairs of opening bowlers in the history of the
    game.

    The team for England will be announced early next week, but it is most likely that Yousuf Youhana will be back, having
    recovered from his ankle injury, and there is a very serious possibility that Shoaib Akhtar will not only have recovered from
    injuries but also rehabilitated his career, leaving the chucking controversy behind him yet again.

    Their comeback should add to the strength of this team which is trying to psyche itself up to avenge the home series loss by
    beating England in their own backyard.

    CricInfo Ltd.

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