Inzamam seeks Shoaib, Asif availability for World Cup

inziInzamam-ul-Haq is confident Pakistan will regain their form in next month’s World Cup but links it to the availability of key pacers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif.

The Pakistan captain told reporters on his arrival from South Africa with the national team on Friday that his boys would comeback strongly after suffering a 1-3 drubbing in the recently-concluded one-day series.

“But I believe the availability of Shoaib and Asif would be very important in our World Cup campaign, we really need them,” Inzamam said.

Shoaib and Asif, who tested positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone last October, are in Pakistan’s 15-man World Cup squad but remain doubtful for the spectacle scheduled to be played in the Caribbean from March 13 to April 28.

The pace duo has to clear dope tests being carried out internally by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and may still be in danger of an international ban during the World Cup where the International Cricket Council (ICC) plans to implement target testing.

“Shoaib and Asif are our key bowlers and we have no suitable replacements for them in case they are not available for the World Cup,” said Inzamam, who is expected to lead an injury-hit team to the World Cup crown in the West Indies.

The PCB is carrying out dope tests of its World Cup-bound players, the results of which should come out by the end of this month.

Inzamam was hopeful that the dope-tainted fast bowlers and other team members would clear the dope tests. “I am confident that all the players including Shoaib and Asif will clear these tests,” said Inzamam.

Apart from doping fears, the two pacers are also fighting fitness problems with Shoaib carrying a knee injury and Asif suffering from the wear and tear following a highly demanding tour of South Africa.

“Injuries to key players is a major issue for us,” said Inzamam. “Our international schedule has been very tough and has left some of our players injured and the other very exhausted,” he added.

The veteran batsman said that his players will have to lift their game in the bid for World Cup glory where he counts Pakistan among the leading contenders for the title.

“I have confidence in my boys, they just need to apply themselves and work harder to improve their performance,” he explained.

Inzamam agreed that Pakistan have failed to find a good opening pair ahead of the World Cup but added that they have no time to work on a different combination.

“There are just a few weeks left in the World and we will have to rely on the available openers because there is simply no time to prepare new ones,” he expressed.

Pakistan have selected Muhammad Hafeez and Imran Nazir as their openers in the World Cup squad but both the batsmen failed to show any consistency in South Africa.

Inzamam, who turns 37 next month, is also unhappy with his own batting form but promised to improve it during the World Cup.

“I am very confident to regain my form in the World Cup,” said the burly skipper who scored just 74 runs in the series against South Africa.

Source:The News

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Written by Team CricketViewer on February 17th, 2007 with 39 Views

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