ICL: Indian Cricket League

The force is with us, declares Younis


khanYounis Khan believes next month’s possible comeback of three key fast bowlers including Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif would make Pakistan the best bowling team in the world even ahead of world champions Australia, writes Khalid Hussain.

The Pakistan vice-captain said that his team would gain a huge pace advantage once Shoaib Asif and another previously banned medium pacer Shabbir Ahmed return to international cricket during next month’s tour of South Africa.

“We would have a bowling attack stronger than Australia’s if Shoaib, Asif and Shabbir return to the squad,” Younis told ‘The News’ in an interview here at the National Stadium.

“We are already equipped with some good bowlers but once these three are back our attack would be awesome,” added the prolific middle-order batsman.

Shoaib and Asif are available for selection for the tour of South Africa starting from January 4 after being cleared of doping offences by a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appeals committee earlier this month. The duo was previously banned after testing positive for illegal anabolic steroid nandrolone in October.

Shabbir, also a lethal medium pacer when at his best, was last week cleared by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after serving a 12-month ban for an illegal bowling action. The trio has been included in a list of 25 probables invited for a conditioning camp starting in Lahore from tomorrow in preparation for the tour of South Africa.

“All these three are valuable bowlers for their wicket-taking abilities and you need such players to win Tests against strong opponents,” said Younis who was a part of an under-strength Pakistan team that suffered a 0-3 defeat in a four-Test away series against England this summer.

Pakistan played without the trio which was unavailable either due to injury or suspension for the tour of England. But Younis pointed out that even without them, Pakistan rode on a good showing from pacers Umar Gul, Shahid Nazir, Abdul Razzaq and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria to beat West Indies 2-0 in a home Test series this season.

“The one thing that makes me very optimistic about our team’s future is that bowlers like Umar Gul, Shahid Nazir and Mohammad Sami have been performing impressively in recent times and Rana Naved is also regaining good form,” he remarked.

“I must say that once we have all our pacers ready for national duty we would be better off than even Australia in this department of the game,” he added.

Australia, the number one side in Test and one-day cricket, is widely seen as a team with the world’s most lethal bowling attack that includes two of the world’s top strike bowlers Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

“Nobody can argue that Australia are a great bowling side but I believe, God willing, we are on the way to getting better than them,” he said.

Younis, who has led Peshawar Panthers into the semifinals of the under-progress Twenty20 Cup here, is looking forward to an exciting series against South Africa where Pakistan would play three Tests, five One-day Internationals (ODIs) and a Twenty20 game ahead of next spring’s World Cup in the Caribbean islands.

He believes Pakistan would be in a good position to win the series but was quick to add that the players will have to really apply themselves in what would be demanding playing conditions in South Africa.

“The South Africans are a top side but we are good enough to beat them. By applying ourselves and showing self belief we can do it,” he explained.

Yousuf down played fears that Pakistani batsmen would flop on bouncy South African wickets against some of the world’s most dangerous bowlers on the tour. “The going would be tough but I am confident we would be ready for the challenge,” he said.

Younis said that it is very important for Pakistan to do well in South Africa as it would enhance their confidence before the all-important World Cup.
Source:The News

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