icc champions trophy

Mahmood, the bowling guru of resurgent Pakistan

T20 specialist motivates players with his experience and new approach

18:01 June 18, 2017
 coach Azhar Mahmood during nets

London: Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood, who shaped the Pakistan team bowlers to destroy strong batting line-ups in the ICC Champions Trophy, wants his bowlers to always go for the kill when playing a match, be it final or otherwise.

Mahmood, who often comes to coach youngsters in Dubai, has motivated his bowlers about how not to succumb to pressure. Interestingly, The Oval is his home ground and he is familiar with the pitch more than anyone else. He played for Surrey even last year, and The Oval is the home ground for the team.

Mahmood wants everyone to believe in his bowlers. “‘I believe in my boys. They can deliver and has the skills,” he said.

Well known as a Twenty20 specialist player, Mahmood loves a challenge and want his team to shock favourites always in all matches. “This is the time for us to change that tag that we don’t perform well at ICC events. History can change and I hope we can change it.”

Mahmood is calling on everyone to think they can win. “No one gave us any hope when we got here for the champions trophy. We were the number eight ranked side, and no one gave us any credit. I remember someone asking me before the tournament as to who would be in the final, and at that I had said it will be Pakistan.”

The bowling coach has told his players they have nothing to lose; all they need to do is to go out and give their best always. That advice is showing on the bowlers. “We’ve got nothing to lose so I want pressure on the opponents always. One should always go out to win.”

Talking about India-Pakistan final, Mahmood said: “It is a big one, especially with India refusing to play against us otherwise. But on the biggest stage it is again India versus Pakistan. It is something like the Ashes ... if not bigger, since expectations are high from both nations crazy about cricket. So the pressure is high for both sides and their countries ... but it is a dream final for the sponsors and the broadcasters. This game will teach us how to handle pressures,”

Mahmood has, meanwhile, introduced a new device while training to stop his bowlers from bowling no-balls. It is a device that tells the bowlers to stay behind the line with a two-line sensor on both sides of the bowling crease. The monitor will beep if it is a no-ball, alerting the bowler.