ICL: Indian Cricket League


Lara looks to open cracks in depleted Pakistan

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laraThe West Indies captain Brian Lara hopes his team can apply enough pressure to open some cracks in a Pakistan Test line-up depleted by doping bans in the three-Test series starting here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday (today).

“Putting them (Pakistanis) under pressure will be the key,” Lara told reporters on Friday. A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) tribunal banned Shoaib Akhtar for two years and fellow fast bowler Mohammad Asif for one year for using the banned substance nandrolone. Both have filed appeals against the bans with the PCB and an appeal commission is expected to meet next week.

The West Indies has won just one of their six Test series in Pakistan — under Clive Lloyd 26 years ago. The once world-beating Caribbean team have gone through some turbulent times in recent years, winning just one of their last 14 Tests.

The West Indies also lost a Test series 2-0 to Pakistan at Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2002 when they refused to tour Pakistan for security reasons. “It’s an opportunity now for us to take ourselves out of that hole and I’m very optimistic about the future,” Lara said.

Lara said the Gaddafi Stadium pitch would deteriorate and would be low and slow, which might help the spinners.

The West Indies’ progress in international cricket has also impressed Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq. “The West Indies look one of the strongest teams in the world with their recent performances in one-day games,” Inzamam said. “They are playing as a unit and it will be a tough series for us.”

The Pakistan captain was hopeful the Lahore pitch would turn. “It is a good track and I hope it will take spin after the third day,” said Inzamam.

Inzamam singled out Lara as the most dangerous batsman in the West Indies side. “Lara is a great player,” he said. “If he spends some time at the wicket, he can pose serious problems to the opposition with his fast scoring.”

The West Indies surprised some higher-ranked teams in the ICC Champions Trophy in India this month when they qualified for the final before losing to world champions Australia.

But Lara said it’s in the Test matches that he most wants the West Indies to reverse their fortunes. “Many of people are concentrating on the one-day game presently with the World Cup coming up, but we all know that Test cricket is really what it’s all about,” Lara said. “We are hoping that with the confidence we have gained in the one-day arena, we transform it into Test match arena.”

In spite of the absence of Shoaib and Asif, Lara remains wary of Pakistan’s bowling attack including leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and paceman Umar Gul. “They have the armoury to beat international teams playing in Pakistan and I do rate them highly,” he stated.

Pakistan failed to qualify for the semifinals of the Champions Trophy in the absence of regular skipper Inzamam, who was banned for four One-day Internationals (ODIs) after The Oval Test’s forfeit fiasco in August. “I haven’t played international cricket for two months, but I’m looking forward to playing some good competitive cricket against the West Indies,” Inzamam expressed. “We will miss our two key fast bowlers, but we have played international cricket without them in the past and have won matches.”

In-form West Indies opener Chris Gayle, who scored three centuries and was named player of the Champions Trophy, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have been suffering from stomach upsets, but Lara said both key batsmen would be fit for the opening Test match.

Teams:

Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Yasir Hameed, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Faisal Iqbal, Kamran Akmal, Shahid Nazir, Umar Gul, Samiullah Niazi, Danish Kaneria and Abdul Rehman.

West Indies (from): Brian Lara (captain), Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Daren Ganga, Lendl Simmons, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Runako Morton, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Corey Collymore, Fidel Edwards, Daren Powell, Jerome Taylor, Omari Banks, Dave Mohammad.

Umpires: Simon Taufel (Australia) and Asoka de Silva (Sri Lanka); TV Umpire: Nadeem Ghauri (Pakistan). Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka).
Source:The News

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