Wasim Akram, the charismatic Pakistan skipper, is back at the helm. Pakistan's inquiry into the match-fixing allegations has been bothering Akram and his millions of admirers. Now that he has regained his crown, a touch of class and spirit of aggression are ensured to the Pakistan team. Akram and his men will play a three-match Series against the West Indies in the DMC Toronto Cricket Festival on September 16, 18 and 19.
The infamous "glory to dust" tale that smudged Pakistan's image in the World Cup 99 must still be haunting the Pakistan cricket team and its followers. A grand show at Toronto might as well serve as an effective tonic to them. This three-match Series will be the first assignment for Pakistan this season. Sri Lanka (AIWA Cup), the West Indies (Singapore Cup) and India (DMC Cup Toronto) have won a Series each in this season. The World champion Australia was outplayed by Sri Lanka in the AIWA Cup final in Lanka.
The West Indies crushed India in Singapore final while India avenged that defeat in the Toronto Series. That only means that all the former World champions have discovered their respective cup-winning ways. Will Toronto be the arena for Pakistan to make a heady start to the season? The cricket world would follow the fortunes of Pakistan and the West Indies with great interest. The West Indies, like Sri Lanka and India, is undergoing a re-building process.
In Singapore and Toronto, the West Indies had shown enough signs for settling down. But in the third and final game against India in Toronto a superbly functioning Indians under the shrewd leadership of Sourav Ganguly shattered the West Indian morale. The West Indian skipper Brian Lara must now be in a mixed mood. His men did a wonderful job right from Singapore to the start of their chase in the third and final match against India in Toronto.
It was a miserable 52 for seven that must be giving a terrible feeling for Lara. No doubt, the sensational effort of 20-year-old genius Ricardo Powell (76 off 73 balls with seven sixes and three fours) must have given Lara immense satisfaction. There is at least one youngster among many who has arrived at the 'big time' cricket with a bang.