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Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Akhtar should play against India"

Wasim Akram firmly believes Pakistan should play Shoaib Akhtar against India in the semi-final.
By Faisal Kamal
The former Pakistan skipper the retiring speedster should feature in the Pakistan XI in the all-important semi-final against India at Mohali on March 30. Talking exclusively to Mobile ESPN from Karachi on Friday, Akram said that Shoaib is a gamble worth taking.

"Maybe Pakistan will play Shoaib Akhtar against India. I feel he deserves a place for sure. Wahab Riaz is bowling well but he is nothing exceptional and Shoaib could take his place. Shoaib's only problem in this ICC CWC has been his second spell. I have advised him to warm up before the second spell and that will help him," said Akram.

Going by his past record, Akhtar has always provided the psychological edge to Pakistan against arch-rivals India. The tear-away picked Sachin Tendulkar on a fast short-pitched delivery at Centurion in the 2003 edition to deny the master blaster a century. Akram feels that Akhtar is a different bowler against India.

"Shoaib against the Indians is always very dangerous. I know it is a big risk, but luck favours the brave. Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag are top-class players but against Shoaib it's a different duel altogether. He is an entertainer and he loves the big stage," said Akram

With Akhtar in the side, it will be a toss-up between Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman for the Pakistan think-tank at Mohali. Akram feels it's good for Shahid Afridi to be spoilt for choices.

"Saeed Ajmal bowled well against Australia. Though Pakistan can even revert to Abdur Rehman for the semis. Probably Shahid will asses the Mohali pitch and then take a call. When a team is performing well, these are good problems to have," said Akram.

India have won all the four ICC CWC encounters against Pakistan since 1992 but records fade away when the two teams take to the field. Akram feels it will surely be a very exciting affair.

"I feel that India are the favourites against Pakistan. Though Pakistan are also playing good cricket. India are definitely strong on paper, are an experienced side. Pakistan have an edge in the bowling department, they have a better variety. India-Pakistan match is always a pressure-cooker affair, whether you play in front of an empty stand or in Timbuktu. It will certainly be a close game," said Akram.
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