Pakistan hope to return with a bang in Twenty20
A week after ball-tampering allegations almost forced them to abandon the tour, Pakistan would set their eyes back on cricket and take on England in a Twenty20 game here today (Monday).
Pakistan have never played a Twenty20 international before but believe that with the firepower of pinch-hitters Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and the return of speedster Shoaib Akhtar and opener Shoaib Malik, they would conquer the hosts with ease.
The curtain-raiser to the one-day series that was in doubt in the wake of The Oval fiasco, follows a 3-0 rout of Pakistan in the four-match Test contest.
The Australian umpire Darrell Hair accused Pakistan of ball tampering in the fourth Test last Sunday and later awarded it to England after Pakistan staged a dressing room sit-in as a mark of protest. The row triggered one of cricket’s worst scandals and almost forced Pakistan to pack their bags and head home last week but the tourists say that a week after the incident they are now in a better frame of mind.
“Our boys have gone through a bad period following the last Test but they are now getting back to normality and looking forward to playing cricket,” team manager Zaheer Abbas told ‘The News’ after Pakistan team training session on Sunday afternoon.
He said that Pakistan would go all out for a win in the Bristol outing something that would boost their confidence ahead of the first of the five 50-over games at Sophia Garden in Cardiff on August 30. “It would be very important for us to win tomorrow’s game as these boys need something to cheer about,” said the former Test cricketer.
Earlier this summer, England played and lost a similar game against Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl and later went on to suffer a 0-5 drubbing at the hands of the visitors in the ODI series.
Pakistan are short on match practice but Zaheer said that the players are in good shape after carrying out a couple of sessions over the weekend at Bristol. “We lost an opportunity of getting some match practice because our game against Middlesex (at Uxbridge) was washed out but there has been plenty of net practice and the boys look in fine nick,” he revealed.
Fit-again pacer Shoaib Akhtar is expected to return to the Pakistan ranks after staying out since January this year because of multiple injury problems. Also set to make a comeback is prolific opener Shoaib Malik who is expected to open for Pakistan today with Mohammad Hafeez.
After missing the last two Tests because of lack of form, all-rounder Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq would be back in the side. Medium pacer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, who missed the first leg of the tour of England because of a groin problem, is also fully fit and available for selection.
Squads - England (from): Andrew Strauss (captain), Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Rikki Clarke, Paul Collingwood, Alistair Cook, J Dalrymple, Darren Gough, Stephen Harmison, E Joyce, J Lewis, Sajid Mahmood , Kevin Pietersen, Chris Read (wicket-keeper), Marcus Trescothick, Michael Yardy.
Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Imran Farhat, Shoaib Akhtar, Rana Naved, Rao Iftikhar, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria.
Source:The NewsMore on:england, Pakistan, Pakistan in England 2006, Twenty20
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