Sharjah: Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram feels that veteran Arjuna Ranatunga ought to be in the Sri Lankan team to guide the youngsters in a tight situation.
''I don't know why Arjuna is not in the team...he is the best batsman in the world. He should be in the side,'' Wasim told reporters here last night, soon after Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by 88 runs in the Coca Cola Cup cricket tournament final. On the coming crucial test series between Pakistan and Australia, he said ''it will be a different ball game altogether in Australia.''
But, he was confident that the series would be exciting. About the controversial decision by third umpire Steve Dunne ruling Arvinda De Silva out when the Sri Lankan batsman appeared well set for a big innings in the final, the Pakistani captain said ''it was a neutral ground, neutral umpires...everybody can commit a mistake.''
On the withdrawal of fast bowler Shabbir Ahmed from the Pakistan squad for Australia, Wasim said this had been done on the advice of the International Cricket Committee (ICC) on illegal deliveries. ''Hopefully, Shabbir will be 'ok' in two weeks and back in the team.'' As a result of Shabbir's exclusion, Waqar Younis had been included in the team. Wasim Raja, who ended his tenure as Pakistan team's coach yesterday, said ''I have been extremely fortunate to have been associated with such talented boys, both on and off the field.''
He added that allegations by ''non-cricketers'' of match fixing and betting against the players were ''nonsense.'' He clarified that Shabbir Ahmed had not been suspended, but the ICC panel was monitoring his bowling action. Raja said that there was nothing wrong with Shabbir's bowling action. When Sri Lankan skipper Sanath Jayasuriya was asked if he missed having Arjuna Ranatunga in the team, he said "he is one of our most experienced players, but I have to be happy with what I have ...there are 15 players".
He said that Sri Lanka's batting in the tournament was not up to the mark, though the team bowled and fielded well. Due credit must be given to the Pakistanis who were brilliant, he added. "We did not bat properly ...we lost four quick wickets.
Two or three batsmen are always required to stay on at the crease." Jayasuriya declined to say anything about the controversial umpiring decisions against Arvinda De Silva and Romesh Kaluwitharna.
"I can't comment on this...there are three umpires and a match referee", he said when asked if in his opinion the dubious decision against Arvinda proved to be the turning point of the match. Sri Lankan coach Dave Whatmore said that there was no question of Sri Lanka appealing before the ICC against the umpiring decisions. Media reports, meanwhile, said the umpire Steve Dunne picked up a quarrel with Worldtel commentators Jonathan Agnew and Rameez Raja who were critical of his judgement against Arvinda.