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Monday, February 14, 2011


Pakistan captain, Shahid Afridi, is expecting the ageing express pacer, Shoaib Akhtar, to be Pakistan’s trump card in the soon-to-start ICC World Cup 2011. The Boys in Green are looking to lift the coveted trophy for the second time in the history of Pakistan Cricket.
Afridi spoke to media reporters in Dhaka and commented that the speedster is working hard on his fitness because the 35-year-old wants to give his best in what could be his swansong World Cup. "Let me tell you that Shoaib Akhtar is working really, really hard because he wants to be at his best in the World Cup,” said Afridi. “In terms of fitness, Shoaib may be a bit down but he is totally committed and is improving day by day," he added.
The flamboyant all-rounder said that he would not be surprised if Akhtar delivers his brilliant best during the World Cup. The sensational new-ball pair of Pakistan, including Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, was banned from cricket earlier this month, following their involvement in a spot-fixing scandal. The depleted pace attack, according to quite a few cricket experts, might affect the team’s prospects in the tournament.
Afridi, however, played down the notion of a ‘depleted pace attack’ and said his fast bowlers have the potential to change the course of the game on any day. "Besides Akhtar, we have Umar Gul who is a valuable player and match winner. I don't think that there is any cause for concern. Our team is shaping up well and the boys are all highly motivated to give their best in the World Cup," he said.
The Akhtar-lead pace attack of Pakistan includes reverse swing bowler Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, all-rounder Abdul Razzq and the fresh pacer, Junaid Khan, who has been called in as injured Sohail Tanvir’s replacement.
The turning tracks of the subcontinent are best known for assisting spinners and Afridi said that his side is also considering the option of playing an extra spinner in the mega event starting in Dhaka on Saturday. "The playing conditions would be quite different to what we encountered during our tour of New Zealand. Here we can explore the idea of playing an extra specialist spinner," said the all-rounder who himself is a accomplished leg-spinner.
Pakistan is all set to kick-off the ICC World Cup 2011 tour officially by taking Bangladesh in the first of their two official warm-up matches at Mirpur, Dhaka tomorrow, 15 February.
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