Woolmer's Pak gambit
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Woolmer's Pak gambit

The Pakistan coach says with five openers, he has plenty of choices, writes C Shekhar Luthra.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2006 04:55 IST

Bob Woolmer exudes a calm confidence, whether or not his team is doing well. Some say it is typical of the man, a smooth operator. Others — and he has an equal number of fans and critics — say it is that very self-assurance that is Woolmer's strength. He is able to pass that on to his players.

Even as Pakistan gear up to take on Sri Lanka in their first Champions Trophy league encounter here on Tuesday, Woolmer spoke to HT on a variety of cricketing issues, from his team's preparedness to the concept of powerplays. Excerpts from an interview:

Is Pakistan’s poor Champions Trophy record a worry as you look to begin your campaign?

You can’t worry about the past because that is history. There are a few other sides that have also not done well in the past and I don’t see this as a worry. In fact, we are going into the Champions Trophy aiming to try and do as well as we can. We have a bunch of good players who have performed consistently well over a period of time.

Is your recent success more because of the fact that you have quite a few all-rounders in the side?

One-day cricket is all about all-rounders. This is where we try and get to as a team. We have nine to 10 batsman and simultaneously, seven or eight bowlers. And if they all can try and fire on all cylinders then there is no doubt that we will be a force to reckon with. Of course, it would be of great help if we win a few tosses during this series.

Do you think Sri Lanka start with an advantage after already winning three qualifying games?

Yes, that could be a big plus for the Lankans. They are on a roll after winning their matches coming into the main draw. We have to be careful and at our best when we take them on. They have a good side and a talented coach in Tom Moody but we have a reasonable record against them.

Do you have any specific gameplan for them?

My analyst has already recorded Sri Lanka’s games for me and I am going to have a good look at them before the game. The first match of a tournament is always really important and we can’t take any chances.

Are you satisfied with your team’s preparations?

We have played a couple of practice games here in Jaipur. Though we were not really pushed hard in either, the way our players played was really good. All our bowlers bowled a good line and restricted the opponents and the batsmen looked in good nick.

You have as many as five opening batsmen. Is that something that worries you?

I have always been quite interested in opening partnerships and we’ve had some good partnerships in the practice games. We have the option of choosing from five openers — Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat and Kamran Akmal — as per the situation. So, I am not particularly worried. In ODIs, one needs to have that kind of flexibility in the batting order.

Do the increased powerplay overs force you to change the batting order in the first 20 overs?

There is always an element of doubt before we go into the second and third powerplays. You can be either 120 for one in 20 overs or you can lose 4-5 wickets while going for a few extra runs. What we try and do is that when the last powerplay comes in, players like Afridi are needed to force the pace out in the middle.

How is the bowling shaping up?

I am not particularly worried about my bowlers. As we have seen in the practice games here, they have looked in their element. No one has really pushed us.

First Published: Oct 16, 2006 04:55 IST