Waqar says Pakistan learning Australia lessons

GROS ISLET: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis believes the slack approach that marred the team''s winless tour of Australia has been replaced by a new spirit of determination ahead of the World Twenty20.

Defending champions Pakistan face Group A rivals Bangladesh and Australia here at the Beausejour Stadium, on Saturday and Sunday respectively, and fast bowling great Waqar is adamant they will do so with a renewed professionalism.

"I''ve seen the change from Australia to Pakistan," Waqar told reporters here on Thursday.

"The boys have really started responding. In Australia I was part of the team and the boys were a little laid back, not really bothered."

Pakistan''s recent tour of Australia saw them fail to win in three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20.

Even by the standards of Pakistani cricket, the fall-out was dramatic with former captains Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan receiving indefinite bans for infighting.

Meanwhile Shoaib Malik and Naved-ul-Hasan were both suspended for a year while Shahid Afridi, Pakistan''s captain at the World Twenty20, and the Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar, were fined and put on probation for six months each.

"I don''t know if it''s got anything to do with the bannings or what, but they have really started pushing themselves," Waqar said.

"I wouldn''t say they''re scared but they''ve probably started thinking it''s a professional game and they get paid for it and there''s a country''s (honour) at stake."

Perhaps only in Pakistan could Afridi find himself captaining the national side after receiving a two-match Twenty20 ban for ball-tampering, caused by chewing on the ball, in a one-dayer against Australia in Perth.

But there is no denying the dynamic batsman and dangerous leg-spinner''s talent, especially in the Twenty20 format, and Waqar reckons Afridi is a reformed character.

"I think so, he has probably realised and he wants to do more," Waqar said.

"And I think he is the best choice as captain. He is an all-rounder and he leads from the front."

Afridi took four wickets in Pakistan''s 12-run warm-up loss to Zimbabwe on Thursday and Waqar added: "He is bowling superbly, he is a match-winning bowler. And with his quick 30-odd off 10 balls or whatever, that really puts the game in your favour."

Former captain Waqar, brought in a bowling coach on the Australian tour, found himself promoted to the senior role in March.

"It wasn''t easy to take over this job," he said. "It was difficult but I''m managing it okay. The suspensions were done before I took the job, I couldn''t do anything about it.

"Whatever I''ve got, it''s the best we''ve got in Pakistan, so we''ve got to make do with this."