Duo refocus on UAE series

Off-field problems hinder both Pakistan and New Zealand

Last Updated: 02/11/09 12:37pm

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Younus: resignation rejected

Younus: resignation rejected

Sky Bet

Pakistan and New Zealand are both looking to put off-field problems behind them during the three-match one-day international series in Abu Dhabi, starting on Tuesday.

Younus Khan offered his resignation as Pakistan captain in protest at baseless allegations of match-fixing against his team during the recent Champions Trophy from a senior politician.

The Pakistan Cricket Board refused to sanction Younus' departure and, heartened by their show of support and an assurance the job was his through to the 2011 World Cup, he agreed to carry on.

Younus has also denied reports of rifts in the camp, especially between him and his deputy Shahid Afridi.

"This team is not anyone's personal property and we are all playing for one country," he said.

"Our aim is common, and that is to ensure victory for Pakistan."

Pakistan have dropped former vice-captain Misbah-ul-Haq for the series against New Zealand, which is being played in neutral territory due to safety concerns for touring teams in Pakistan in the wake of a terrorist attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore last March.

Paceman Mohammad Asif is also absent as he is not allowed to travel to the United Arab Emirates due to his deportation from Dubai last year for opium possession.

Recalled

Batsmen Salman Butt, Khalid Latif and Imran Farhat are all recalled to the one-day squad after varying length spells in the wilderness.

Pakistan were knocked out of the Champions Trophy by the Black Caps in the semi-final on October 3 but Younus says revenge is not on the agenda.

"It's not a revenge series, but all the players have it in their minds to beat New Zealand," he added.

"In sport, there is no revenge but we will not forget that (Champions Trophy) loss.

"It's not going to be easy beating New Zealand. They are a closely-knit team, they play as a unit and they did very well in the Champions Trophy.

"Moreover, since it's a neutral venue the conditions will be similar for both sides, so there will be no advantage or disadvantage for any team.

"It's important that we play as a team."

New Zealand, meanwhile, have had their own troubles since their defeat to Australia in the final of the Champions Trophy.

Coach Andy Moles prematurely ended his contract with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) after it emerged some senior players were unhappy with his lack of technical and tactical support.

Moles' exit means captain Daniel Vettori will add to his already extensive workload by taking on extra coaching responsibilities in the interim.

"There has been no real talk about the change in structure at all or even about who is going to be the next coach," said Vettori.

Opportunities

"I think the guys are looking firstly to cement their places in the team and win games rather than worry about anything else.

"People still expect us to win and there's no reason why we cannot.

"That's the mindset we need to have and every single person in the squad has to pick up a little bit of the slack."

New Zealand are without opener Jesse Ryder, middle-order batsman Grant Elliott and seam bowler Daryl Tuffey, all sidelined with injuries.

Tim Southee is expected to complete a seam attack comprising Kyle Mills and Shane Bond, while Vettori indicated Nathan McCullum was set to play as a second spinner.

"There will have to be a drastic change in what we expect of the wicket for us to change our minds," Vettori said.

Pakistan (from): Younus Khan (capt), Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Umer Akmal, Kamran Akmal, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamir, Rao Iftikhar, Wahab Riaz

New Zealand (from): Daniel Vettori (capt), Shane Bond, Neil Broom, Ian Butler, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Aaron Redmond, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling

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