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Karachi Kings will continue to work hard, promises Azhar Mahmood

Karachi Kings have surprised all and sundry in PSL 3. Three wins in as many games is a great start but the team management comprising head coach Mickey Arthur, team director Rashid Latif, bowling coach Azhar Mahmood and batting coach Faisal Iqbal will closely monitor the progress of the team and will guard against complacency.

The team’s support staff works day and night, on the field and away from it, to keep the good work intact, to bring the best out of the players.

The notable thing about Karachi Kings is their bowling resembles that of Pakistan. They have successfully defended modest targets of 150 and 160 in the three matches thus proving they can defend any total through their knack of taking wickets.

Against two times runner-up and formidable batting unit Quetta Gladiators, they took nine wickets, then kept another strong batting line up Peshawar Zalmi to 131-9 and then bowled out Lahore Qalandars for 132 — 28 wickets in three games! That speaks volume of their bowling.

The one man in delivering the most is Azhar Mahmood, also the bowling coach of Pakistan’s national team. Azhar has been an unassuming and silent performer. ARY News gives credit whre it deserves and spoke to the man with ‘Midas Touch’.

Q: PSL is all about grooming Pakistan’s raw talent and find good players for the national team. Have you found out any real talent till now in PSL 3.

Azhar: It’s a bit early, but, yes, talent is there and just like last year we have seen some talented player like Shaheen Afridi and Ibtisam Sheikh. Shaheen has played Under 19. PSL is a good sign for Pakistan cricket. Youngsters share the dressing room with top players. They learn how to prepare for a match, what should be the mindset and what should be the approach. So PSL is the platform for these youngsters.

Q: You have handled the bowlers very well. It seems that this is Pakistan team in blue colours, as they defend a modest total by taking wickets.

Azhar: Twenty20 cricket needs a method. At times people forget that you don’t start hitting from the first ball. If you see how Ravi Bopara batted (scored 50 not out against Lahore), the way he held the innings and scored a brilliant fifty and lifted the total. If you look at the opponents they got panicked by hitting big shots although they needed 75 in the last 11 overs.

So these things are lessons for the young players. I have three Pakistan bowlers in my attack so I tell them how to change approach in different formats. We play attacking cricket and take that option. A bowler must know that Twenty20 cricket is fast, you will go for runs and shouldn’t be worried about that. If you get wickets then it will put pressure on the batting side.”

Q: Usman Shinwari has fully recovered a big time. He was advised four to six months for recovery, but hasn’t he returned before time?

Azhar: His recovery is remarkable. When Usman was recovering he was sending me his videos of what he was doing. What he was doing and he and the medical team managing him worked really hard on him. Shinwari did the hard work and was very keen to stage a comeback. He worked very hard at NCA in Lahore and he must be given full credit. He took responsibility. Had Amir not had fitness problem we would not have played Shinwari. We wanted him to bowl more in the nets so that he fully recovers. But hats off to him.

Q: Three out of three for Karachi Kings now, would complacency set in?

Azhar: Our coaching staff does not allow any complacency to creep in. We will not think that we have won three games so we can relax. No, you win and you lose but the hard work should be consistent.

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