ISLAMABAD - Former ICC president and Test captain Zaheer Abbas expressed his deep concern over legendry cricketer Hanif Muhammad’s illness and praised federal government and PCB for the timely help for the legend.

Talking to The Nation, Zaheer said: “Hanif Muhammad is an asset not only for Pakistan but also for the entire cricket community. I highly appreciate government and the PCB gesture and one thing is quite clear, the nations, who respect their greats, are bound to excel at the highest level and achieve glories. I hope and pray his speedy recovery and he may leave hospital as early as possible and reach home safely.” When asked about Pakistan cricket team’s dismal performance at the Old Trafford, Zaheer replied: “I was shocked and it was hard to absolve that a team, which had beaten England at the Lord’s quite comfortably, went down so easily. It was very hard for me to believe that what went wrong for the green caps, but I am confident that Pakistan team will bounce back in Edgbaston and give England tough time and win back fans’ confidence once again.”

Zaheer said he would not recommend major changes in the Test squad, as same team had done wonders in the first Test at the Lord’s. “It’s cricket and sometimes players fail to handle the pressure and don’t give desired performances, but it doesn’t mean they should be chopped in every match. All of a sudden, players should not be dropped for only one or two bad results.

“Pakistan team management should balance the squad in the third Test. They have played with three left-arm fast bowlers and I suggest they should include one right-arm fast bowler to bring variety to their bowling attack, while Zulfiqar Babar is also a good option, but it depends on pitch condition. Edgbaston is traditionally a happy hunting ground for Pakistan and I had scored my first double century (274) at this ground and Pakistan has very pleasant memories there,” he added.

He said actually Pakistan overused their trump card Yasir Shah in the Old Trafford Test. “Yasir bowled too many overs, which almost finished his utility and fear factor. English batsmen easily read his deliveries and scored loads of runs against him. Yasir should be used very carefully and in patches to ensure his effectiveness, or else he would not be as successful as he could be. Yasir is an exceptional bowler without a shadow of doubt and he will return all guns blazing in the third Test.”

Zaheer said: “In my personal opinion, players should be given more time to adjust as England tour will be a test case for the young guns and after that series, they have to travel to Australia. Their worth and credentials will be checked properly and I recommend they should be given more time to cement their place or make way for the players, who are waiting in long queues.”

“Yasir’s bowling was turning point in the second Test, as he was burnt and tired after long spells. But it is past now and the team must focus on third Test and I am quite sure the team management have chalked out plan and rectify errors which they committed in the second Test. My best wishes as always are with them and I wish them best of luck. They must play aggressively with positive frame of mind and they must enter the match with all guns blazing,” Zaheer concluded.