Batsman Assad Shafiq can ensure a bright future for Pakistan, coach Dave Whatmore declared after a practice session at the Abu Dhabi Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Though disappointed with the first one-day match loss to Australia at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Whatmore believes that the 26-year-old Shafiq and other young guns can help the Pakistanis flourish in years to come. “Shafiq is a very good player and is the future of Pakistan. Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal are also young. So we have some wonderful players,” said Whatmore, who is known for his ability to groom young talent having moulded inexperienced Sri Lankan players into world champions in 1996.

Shafiq and Akmal hit half-centuries in the Sharjah one-dayer earlier this week. However, Whatmore believes that they should also learn to play according to the situation. “Players must be able to read the game properly and, if they can do that, they will be in a much better position to respond with appropriate tactics.”

Whatmore cited one of the glaring mistakes during the Sharjah match as an example of this failing.

Whatmore believes that with every match Pakistan can improve. “We were disappointed not to get the points in Sharjah. We made a couple of errors. I think in the second half of the game we fought very well and came reasonably close to defending the poor total. We can improve obviously. We really want to improve with smarter thinking and hope to do that sooner rather than later,” said Whatmore, who believes that the present Pakistan squad is a strong one.

Whatmore also praised Australia’s fighting spirit for their performance in the first one-day, which they won by four wickets.

“The Australians played well and we have to take our hats off to them and give credit where credit is due. If we had a few more runs to chase then it would have been a different kettle of fish because then it is a bit more pressure on the chasing team to ensure a certain amount of runs per over is maintained,” said Whatmore.