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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We fielded best ever World Cup side in 1999: Yousuf

I have featured in three World Cups, from 1999 to 2007, but will like to talk about the 1999 edition here as that was my first experience of playing in a World Cup.
I was very happy to have been selected to play in the 1999 World Cup along with so many top senior players of the time like Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Waqar Younis and Saleem Malik.
It wasn’t just a debut World Cup for me but for Abdul Razzak, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shahid Afridi, Azhar Mahmood and Shoaib Akhtar as well whose inclusion in the squad resulted in the seniors being sent to the bench whenever we got chances to make our potential known. Waqar Younis only played one match in that entire event but our fast bowling lineup remained among the strongest despite that.
Hence with such a strong pace attack in Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram, Azhar Mahmood and Abdul Razzaq and fine spin from off break bowler Saqlain Mushtaq and leg-break/googly expert Mushtaq Ahmed along with the batting skills of Salim Malik, Ijaz Ahmed, Wajahatullah Wasti and myself and the all-rounders, we fielded perhaps the best ever team in a World Cup which was capable of giving any side a run for their money.
We breezed through the tournament to easily make it to the Super Sixes from where we proceeded to the semi-final and then the final against Australia at Lord’s on June 20. It was unfortunate that we lost the final despite having won the toss. It had been raining before the match, which I think dampened the pitch which in turn helped the Aussie bowlers. Then they also took some great catches that won them the World Cup.
The national team competing in the 2011 World Cup is lucky to still have Afridi, Shoaib and Razzak. This time they are the seniors in the side compared to 1999 and it’s up to the juniors now to take advantage of their presence and learn from them just like we did in 1999. I wish them well.
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