Team will soon get over Yousuf's defection: Pak coach

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Lahore, Nov 5 (UNI) Notwithstanding terming the defection of Mohammad Yousuf to the breakaway Indian Cricket League (ICL) as a 'unfortunate development', new coach Intikhab Alam said his team will soon get over the loss of the country's premier batsman.

''Yousuf's move (to the ICL) is unfortunate and ill-advised,'' Intikhab told 'The News' yesterday.

''He (Yousuf) is certainly one of our key batsmen but there will be no compromise on discipline,'' he stressed.

The former Pakistan Test captain Intikhab was chosen by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to replace Geoff Lawson as the national team coach. Lawson, a former Australia Test pacer, was sacked by the PCB last month over poor results.

On Monday, Yousuf had secretly flown to New Delhi to play in the rebel ICL, sending shockwaves in the national cricket circles.

His action is also likely to force the PCB to ban Yousuf like the other ICL rebels.

The 34-year-old is one of Pakistan's most successful batsmen in Test and ODI history, having scored 6770 runs at 55.49 with the help of 23 centuries in 79 Tests. In 2006, he broke Sir Vivian Richards' long-standing record of most Test runs in a calendar year with a record nine tons.

The Lahore-born player has also scored 9242 runs at 43.18 from 269 one-day appearances.

After Inzamam-ul-Haq resigning from the national squad last year, it was Yousuf, who was regarded as the backbone of the Pakistan's middle-order. But Yousuf's ICL link is likely to end his career in the national cricket, a development that will be a huge blow for the national team.

However, Intikhab is not expressing if he has any concerns.

''I'm a positive man,'' he said. ''The PCB has a clear cut policy on ICL and if he (Yousuf) plays in that league then we will have to take him out of the picture because he will not be eligible to play for Pakistan any more.'' Giving the example of Australia's volatile allrounder Andrew Symonds, who was axed from the squad over a disciplinary breach.

''Symonds is such an important player for Australia, but they dropped him from the tough away series against India because discipline is the key. No player is bigger than the game,'' he stressed.

The new Pakistan coach said Pakistan won't miss Yousuf much in the three-match One-day International series against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi from November 12-16.

''We have several capable batsmen in the side and hopefully they will do well.'' But he indicated that Pakistan will desperately need Yousuf's services for the all-important home series against old rivals India in Jan-Feb next year.

''Pakistan will have around six weeks to overcome Yousuf's possible absence from the three-match Test series that will be followed by five one-dayers and a Twenty20 International,'' he said.

''We will have around six weeks to sit down and sort out our middle order (without Yousuf).

''I remain positive and am confident that Pakistan will raise a strong batting line-up for the series against India,'' he added.

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