Evolving Pakistan team lacks bench strength: Salauddin

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Kolkata, Nov 30 (UNI) PCB Chairman of Selectors Salauddin Ahmed, while admitting a definite of bench strength for the touring side, today said he was not aware why Shoaib Akhtar was selected to play in the Eden Gardens.

Talking to UNI, Salauddin, who was born in Aligarh in India, said, ''During the tours the captain, vice-captain, coach and team manager are responsible for selecting the final eleven. I am not aware what kind of discussions went on in the dressing room.'' Shoaib Akhtar was visibly unfit as he bowled four overs in the morning and then only two after lunch and immediately left the field. He seemed in a hurry to complete his bowling. He bowled with a shortened run-up and his miseries could only have piled up if the Indians continue to bat the way they are doing.

''It is only when Pakistan is playing back home that we decide the 15 and also the playing eleven, but here it is different,'' he added.

A first cousin of veteran Congress leader Mohsina Kidwai, Salauddin said, ''There is definite lack of bench strength. See India has traditionally produced great spinners and we have produced fast bowlers. Now the team is rebuilding and is in search of quality seamers. Two of our selectors are scouting out talents.'' ''Besides injury is also a big worry for the team. Players like Rauf are up-coming fast bowlers, but we need more time,'' he added.

Asked about Pakistan's indifferent form in the recent past, he said, ''look there s a vaccum with the retirement of players like Inzamam-ul-Haq and then we had back to back tough tours.

First South Africa came over, now we are in India and then again Australia comes over. There is no let-off.'' when asked if the exit of Abdur Razzak was a blow for Pakistan, he said, ''No I think we have a good prospect in Sohail Tanvir.'' On Jeff Lawson as a coach, this avid Dilip Kumar fan, who came back from Canada to see Ganga Jamuna in 1965, said, ''He is settling down, but he needs more time. This is a young team and we are sure to blossom soon.'' On whether Mustaq Ahmed was under-utilized, as spinners like Danish Kaneria were not getting the desired bite, he said, ''Look Mustaq was successful in the county as there are hardly any wrist spinners. The ball becomes soapy there and it's very difficult to grip. He had his chances too. And Danish needs a longish stint to flourish, all spinners does.'' lavishing praise on India's batting line-up Salauddin said they (India) can win a game on their sheer batting strength.

''I am a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Before there were Gavaskar and Viswanath. And traditionally we had pacers, like Imran Khan, Wasim Akhram and in batting we had Salim Malik, Javed Miandad and Ejaz Ahmed. It will take some time to fill this void.'' Incidentally the Pakistan chief selector has a Kolkata connection, there is a road in the name of his uncle Rafi Ahmed Kidwai and Dr A R Kidwai, a former governor of West Bengal, his cousin.

UNI

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