ISLAMABAD   -   Pakistan parliamentarians’ cricket team head coach Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai has said that the way the parliamentarians have been training hard with dedication and passion, they will do wonders in the 1st Inter-Parliamentary Cricket World Cup to be held in England from July 8 to 15 this year.

In an interview with The Nation, Ayaz praised the passion of Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser and skipper Zain Hussain Qureshi, who are working so hard and putting up extra efforts to muster such a blend of youth and experienced Pakistani parliamentarians’ cricket team for the upcoming mega event in England.

He said: “I am really surprised to see such a dedication and willingness shown by all the distinguished members of parliament, Senate and provincial assemblies. The way all the parliamentarians are working hard on their fitness and want to get selected to represent Pakistan team is really amazing. I am highly satisfied with the available group of players.”

The head coach said he would like to say a big thanks to Speaker Asad Qaiser, as his presence and involvement has changed the entire mood of the parliamentarians. They are all eager and willing to deliver for Pakistan. When they heard that India is bringing the likes of Tendulkar, Azharuddin and Sidhu, it has put new level of energies in my players. They have full belief in themselves and they are ready to give out their 100 percent.”

Ayaz said: “When I was assigned the job of coaching parliamentarians, I had a lot of apprehensions and doubts about their abilities. I was thinking that cricket and parliamentarians have no relation and they won’t be able to even stand in the middle of the pitch for much long. But they all completely changed my thoughts and the way they were fully engaged and desperate to win a place in the team, it really inspired me.

“They all gave same response what my first class and U-19 players give. The parliamentarians’ team includes high-profile ministers, powerful individuals and well-known political figures, but they all obey and all are willing to respond in the best possible fashion,” he added.

He said: “After one month’s training, I have found fresh and old talent, which is eager to deliver. I have also identified the areas, where they lack and a proper work is being done on those particular areas. The main thing they lack is fitness as they are very bulky but only in a month or so, their weight has been reduced to a larger extent.”

About his team’s strength and weaknesses, Ayaz said: “Our main strength is having lot of youngsters, who are physically fit and very skilful. We have 6 to 7 all-rounders, who can turn the tables on any given opponent at any given time, likes of Ali Zahid, brothers’ duo of Murtaza and Mustafa, captain Zian and others.”

The head coach said their main area of concern is fielding. “We still have one month time and we need to work very hard on this area and I am sure we will improve significantly. A wicketkeeper always holds the key and we are highly fortunate that we have a complete wicketkeeper in shape of Sahibzada Amir Sultan. Deputy Speaker National Assembly Qasim Suri is a secret weapon, who is a genuine left-arm spinner and can destroy any given batting order, no matter it is Tendulkar, Azharuddin or any other player.

“Abbas Jafri from Karachi is a born opening batman, who can punish any given bowler while Mobeen Khilji from Balochistan Assembly is a very good fast bowler. From KP Assembly, we have off spinner former first class player Ahmed Kundi. So we have a blend of very talented young and old players, who are keen to exhibit their prowess at higher level,” he added.