Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik said on Wednesday his pinch-hitters Shahid Afridi and Imran Nazir have the ability to set the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa on fire.
Malik told ‘The News’ in an interview here that his team has a handful of potential match winners but singled out Afridi and Nazir as the two men who can take Pakistan all the way in the September 11-24 extravaganza.
“I believe all my players have the capability to play match winning roles,” Malik said just hours before the Pakistan left for Nairobi via Dubai to feature in a four-nation T20 event. “Personally I think Imran Nazir and Afridi bhai can be our key players,” added the all-rounder.
With the ghosts of their disastrous World Cup campaign in the Caribbean still haunting them, Pakistan were scheduled to fly off to Nairobi early this morning to warm up for a World Cup of a different kind.
Pakistan are hoping that the Twenty20 World Cup will give them an opportunity to wash away the tears of this March’s World Cup disaster in the West Indies where they were knocked out of the opening round by tournament underdogs Ireland.
It was one of the lowest points for Pakistan cricket which has since then been struggling to get back to its feet. Team players and officials believe a title-winning triumph in South Africa will help them redeem the World Cup flop.
“We have tried to forget about the World Cup disappointment,” said Malik who added that Pakistan have an opportunity to bury the ghosts of the World Cup flop once and for all by winning the 12-nation T20 spectacle.
The captain said that all his players were fully ready for the challenge, pointing out that a series of training and conditioning camps have left them in peak physical shape.
“Our fitness was never better and the morale is high which is why I’m expecting our team to do well in South Africa.”
Malik’s excitement is shared in equal measure by the team’s new coach Geoff Lawson who wants to begin his two-year stint with Pakistan by landing the T20 crown.
Lawson came in place of the late Bob Woolmer, who died apparently of heart failure just hours after his team crashed out of the World Cup following the stunning loss against Ireland.
Lawson said that his charges were looking ahead to the African assignment in a positive frame of mind adding that he counts Pakistan among the leading contenders for the title.
Before reaching South Africa, Pakistan will make a stop-over in Nairobi to feature in the quadrangular that also has hosts Kenya, Bangladesh and minnows Uganda.
Malik said that the event will provide his team a good opportunity to warm up for the T20 World Cup.
“We play in a few twenty20 games in Kenya and that practice would be of great help for us before we go to South Africa.”
Pakistan have been drawn with old rivals India and tournament underdogs Scotland in Pool D of the T20 World Cup.
Malik said that his team will be targeting at scores of 180-190 in the World Cup matches saying that such totals should be enough for his bowling attack to defend.
He pointed out that with Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif leading the pace attack, Pakistan will have the ability to even defend modest totals. “But our target would be to score heavily so that nothing is left to chance,” he said.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Imran Nazir, Pakistan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Twenty20 World Cup
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2007 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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