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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No hot favourite in World Cup, says Waqar

waqar younis 543 No hot favourite in World Cup, says Waqar
The way our team is improving, it has a fair chance of performing well in the mega event: Waqar Younis.—AFP photo
LAHORE: Pakistan coach and former Test captain Waqar Younis on Tuesday said no team could be dubbed as hot favourite for next year’s ICC World Cup despite India looking extremely good at this stage in international cricket.
“Yes, India is looking good and performing well in international cricket,” said Waqar while talking to the media here.
“But I would say Pakistan is not far behind. In fact, no team is hot favourite for this World Cup since the mega event is a different kind of tournament. In the past, many teams with great names failed to do well in the World Cup while those showing fitness and form excelled,” the former pace ace pointed out.
“And the way our team is improving, it has a fair chance of performing well in the mega event, although fitness level of the players and improved fielding standards will be the key factors in deciding our fate,” he said.
About seasoned batsman Mohammad Yousuf’s induction in the World Cup squad, Waqar said the great batsman was unlikely to make the team since he had become injury-prone in the recent past.
“No one has any doubt about Yousuf’s class and abilities as a great batsman, but he is nursing a shoulder injury and, for the last few months, has become sort of injury-prone. So he will not be considered for the mega event,” said Waqar candidly.
Waqar also endorsed one-day skipper Shahid Afridi’s views regarding the aims and objectives of batting consultant Javed Miandad’s recent tips in the national training camp.
Afridi, in his media talk during the national training camp a few days ago, had said that seniors like himself and Younis Khan had set techniques which had been developed over so many years in international cricket and even a person of Miandad’s stature could not change them at this stage.
Waqar backed Afridi’s views: “Afridi is right in saying that instead of concentrating on improvement in the seniors’ techniques, the juniors should be focussed in this regard to bring a change in batting.
“No doubt, Miandad helped a lot during the training camp and I have always said that any of the former greats can come forward to help our players,” said Waqar.
“Miandad has always been fantastic, whenever it comes to national interest. But since he has himself decided not to accompany the squad to New Zealand, I will not make any further comment on it.”
Interestingly, Test skipper Misbah had a different opinion about the batting tips being imparted in the camp and said that learning was an ongoing process and every senior and junior player should learn from Miandad.
Waqar, while commenting on the forthcoming tour of New Zealand, said despite the fact that the opponents were beleaguered at the moment after losing back-to-back series against Bangladesh and India, they could be a handful in their home conditions.
“I think after tasting heavy defeats recently, New Zealand will be desperate to make amends and will be aiming to blunt the Pakistan charge in the coming series,” said Waqar.
“So we have to be at our best against them as it is very important tour for us to go with full confidence in the World Cup,” he said.
The Pakistan team is leaving for New Zealand on Dec 18 to play three T20s, two Test matches and six One-day Internationals, before taking part in the World Cup, to be hosted jointly by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from Feb 19 to April 2.
Commenting on Pakistan’s fast bowling strength, he said despite Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif’s loss, Pakistan had enough firepower in the ranks to jolt the Kiwis.
“Umar Gul has been performing well for the last many years and similarly Wahab Riaz is emerging as a good fast bowler. Then there is Tanvir Ahmed and Sohail Tanvir too. So there is nothing to worry about.”
Chief selector Mohsin Khan while talking to Dawn said the decision about Yousuf would be taken on Dec 15 when his medical report will be received.
Mohsin further said that unlike some other countries, Pakistan unfortunately, were still not able to get a clear picture about the World Cup selection.
“Since Pakistan cricket has been facing problems in the last five months, we have not had a clear picture about the exact World Cup squad as yet. But the selectors are here and will be discussing this matter in the next meeting on Wednesday,” said Mohsin.
“I believe the same side which will be selected for the six One-day International series against New Zealand will more or less make up our World Cup squad.”
He said the team had to improve its fielding standard besides fitness levels to achieve good result in New Zealand and the World Cup.
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