ICL: Indian Cricket League

Still uncertain over final World Cup combination: Inzi


Inzamam-ul-Haq on Saturday lamented the turbid state of his team just weeks before the start of the World Cup saying that Pakistan are still undecided over which 15 men would represent them in the Caribbean, writes Khalid Hussain.

“We are yet to give a final shape to our 15-man squad for the World Cup and that makes it evident that we are facing a very difficult situation,” the Pakistan captain said.

Pakistan are dogged by injury problems to key fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif and more so because of fears that the pace duo might not be able to clear dope tests made mandatory by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) before the World Cup.

Shoaib and Asif, who tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance last October, have so far evaded the precautionary dope tests. The PCB has already made it clear that no players would be allowed to play in the World Cup unless he clears the test.

“It is very important for us that Shoaib and Asif play for us in the World Cup because they are our main wicket-taking bowlers,” said Inzamam.

If Shoaib and Asif have to drop out of the World Cup squad then Pakistan will replace them from among three reserves - Mohammad Sami, Shahid Nazir and Azhar Mahmood. All three have unimpressive recent records in ODIs.

Inzamam said that Pakistan would be among the major title contenders if they managed to overcome the prevailing uncertainty over the fate of Shoaib and Asif.

“We would be in the race for the title if all are players get fit and are available for the World Cup,” said the veteran batsman who is under pressure to lift own personal form after having survived a disastrous World Cup in 2003 when he scored just 19 runs in the tournament. Pakistan crashed in the first round in that event.

Inzamam believes the 16-nation World Cup is wide open and any of the top eight teams in the fray can win the coveted crown on April 28 in Barbados.

However, he still believes that defending champions Australia have a better chance of claiming the title even after suffering a major setback because of fast bowler Brett Lee’s recent exit.

The Australians have lost their last five one-dayers in a row and without Lee, who was sidelined from the World Cup because of ankle injury, they look vulnerable. “But Australia are a side with many world class players and they remain very strong contenders,” said Inzamam.

Inzamam believes that Pakistan can go all the way if luck favoured them in the West Indies.

“In 1992 luck was clearly on our side and we went on to win the title,” said Inzamam, who was a member of the triumphant 1992 World Cup squad. Pakistan flopped during the initial stages of the event but later made full use of a lifeline provided by a washed out game against England.

Source:The News

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