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Encouraged by batsmen's progress, says Pakistan coach Grant Flower

Encouraged by batsmen's progress, says Pakistan coach Grant Flower
April 7, 2019

LAHORE (92 News) - Grant Flower, the Pakistan batting coach, said that he is happy with the improvement in the team's batsmen, despite a 5-0 defeat against Australia ahead of the 2019 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup.

Pakistan failed to register a win in the one-day international series in the United Arab Emirates and were completely outplayed by Aaron Finch and his team. However, Flower believes there are a lot of positives to be taken from the outcome. "It was always going to be difficult to beat Australia given how many players we were resting, so in that sense the series result appears worse than it perhaps is," he told ESPNCricinfo.
It was the first time since their ODI tour against Zimbabwe in 2003 that Pakistan batsmen scored five centuries in five games – two each by Haris Sohail and Mohammad Rizwan, and one by Abid Ali. Flower was generous in his praise for Sohail, who was the highest run-getter for Pakistan in the series, and burst into the team after recovering from the second bout of a career-threatening knee injury. "Haris is a class player and he showed that. His knee's getting stronger now, and he's working a lot harder at his fitness. He'll be the first to admit he didn't put in the hard yards quite as much earlier in his career, but he's seeing the benefits of the work he's putting in now," Flower opined. The batting coach was also impressed by the 26-year-old Rizwan, who featured in an ODI game after a gap of two years, as well as 31-year-old Ali, who registered the highest score by a Pakistan batsman on ODI debut. "Rizwan's been playing well, but he looked more in charge of his own mind this time. Less frenetic and paced his innings better. He's good enough to bat in the top four, but I also think he's versatile enough to play lower down. He doesn't have the power-hitting, but he can still find the boundaries and the odd six and do a job. His running between the wickets is among the best of our players. "Abid's century was, of course, brilliant to see. I wasn't expecting it, since we hadn't done much work with him before the series. I'd been told how good he was, but to see him timing the ball as beautifully as he did was very encouraging. Front foot, back foot, offside, legside, you name it. The Australians were very impressed by him," he said.

I really enjoy the players. I think they enjoy working with me; they know I'm honest.

Grant Flower

Interestingly, none of the centurions can be called as regulars in Pakistan's first-choice side and with less than two months left for the World Cup, the batting unit's bench strength bodes well for the team. The former Zimbabwe batsman, who has been with the Pakistan side for five years, admitted it was a pleasure to work with the players and that they will be concentrating on doing a better job in the prestigious tournament. "I really enjoy the players. I think they enjoy working with me; they know I'm honest," said Flower. "When I speak with them, I'm not going behind their backs, I tell them how it is. I see them improving, and you'll see the averages bear that out. But the World Cup's the priority for now. It's a very open tournament, so we'll see how that goes for now. I've been here five years and it's been a good ride." Pakistan’s opening game in the tournament will be on 31 May, against West Indies. Prior to the World Cup, they will tour England for a five-match ODI series and one-off T20I.