KARACHI: Intikhab Alam on Monday decided to hit back at reports suggesting that his charges are a bickering lot and were involved in misconduct during the one-day series against Australia in UAE, saying that he has never seen the Pakistan team more united than it is now under Younis Khan.

The Pakistan coach told ‘The News’ in an interview that players are completely united behind Younis, adding that the team is fully focused on its next assignment which is to win the World Twenty20 Championships in England next month.

“I’ve never seen our team more united than it is now. The boys are fully united and totally support their captain,” said Intikhab, who was manager of the Pakistan team that won the 1992 World Cup in Australia.

Intikhab was reacting to a flow of reports in a section of the local media that has been suggesting that Pakistani cricketers were not at their best behaviour in Dubai and Abu Dhabi where they lost a five-match one-day series against Australia 2-3.

Intikhab, 67, admitted that media reports alleging that ‘girls’ visited some of his players at team hotels in UAE were true but made it clear that those females were in fact the players’ wives.

“All those reports about my players receiving female guests in their rooms are rubbish. I must say that there were females in the rooms of some of the players but they were their wives. The media people behind those baseless reports should have got their facts right before doing such irresponsible reporting,” he said.

Intikhab, who played 47 Tests for Pakistan from 1959-77, claimed that a section of the media was trying to tarnish the players’ image by spreading such untrue reports. He also alleged that some elements are trying to settle personal scores with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) by spreading such rumours.

He urged the media to play a more constructive role as Pakistan cricket is currently going through a rough phase. “We are really facing tough times and in such a situation, I believe it would be better if our media played a more constructive role,” Intikhab stressed.

Local newspapers have recently reported that skipper Younis Khan had a quarrel with the wife of a senior PCB official, who alleged that Pakistani cricketers were receiving female visitors in their hotel rooms during the tour of UAE.

The report claimed that Younis rejected her accusation as baseless and told her to mind her own business. There were also reports that some members of the Pakistani community in UAE were also unhappy with the behaviour of the national cricketers and lodged their complaints with the team management.

Some reports even claimed that the Pakistan team is bitterly divided in two camps with Younis heading one of them and vice-captain Misbah-ul-Haq at the helm of the other. Younis Khan’s decision to sit out Pakistan’s Twenty20 International against Australia in Duba, ignited rumours that he is planning to relinquish captaincy for the June 5-21 World Twenty20 Championships.

However, Intikhab laughed off such suggestions making it clear that it was just wishful thinking on part of the elements, who want to portray Pakistan cricket in a negative way. “Younis decided to skip the Twenty20 game because he was unwell. I believe that he should be given credit for showing such professionalism. He skipped the match in order to allow somebody fitter to take his place,” he said. Intikhab said that Younis is fully focused on his team’s England assignment and has no plans to quit as captain for the biennial spectacle.


Is the Pakistani team fully united behind Younis Khan?