Indian team lacks balance: Akram

Published: Saturday, January 22, 2000, 23:53 [IST]
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Q. Who is the greatest Pakistani cricketer in the last century?
A. Imran Khan, who else? We won the World Cup cricket tournament under his captaincy. Imran is the most respected Pakistani cricketer all over the world.

Q. What about Wasim Akram? He has won more matches for Pakistan than any other Pakistani cricketer?
A. Believe me. Nobody has mentioned my name. It's okay. I believe in performing. I am told Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev have been declared jointly the cricketer of the millennium. They should have added Sachin Tendulkar's name, he has also played extraordinary cricket in the last decade.

Q. Who do you think is the greatest international cricketer of the century?
A. Should be Sir Don Bradman. No, No I would nominate Sir Gary Sobers. He has done everything on the cricket field. No doubt Sir Gary was the best all-rounder the world has ever seen. He scored eight thousand plus runs, 235 wickets, 109 catches. He would easily become the most valuable cricketer of modern era also. He would have been regarded as the best one-day cricketer. So my choice is Sir Garfield Sobers.

Q. Let us talk about the triangular one-day tournament here in Australia. Did you see the two matches of India against Australia?
A. Oh Yes. India should have won the first match against Australia at Melbourne. I cannot even believe the way Saurav Ganguly got run out after scoring 100. He should have stayed back and carried the innings through. We won against India at Brisbane luckily. Not many teams in the world would have won that match. This win may be the turning point for us in this tournament. I am happy to know that our tail-enders had the belief that we could win in an adverse situation. This feeling would be our main strength. As far as the Indian team is concerned, they lack balance.

Q. Would you explain ?
A. I feel sorry for Sachin. If he goes to open and fails, the middle order cannot take the pressure. I think he should open in the sub-continent. And should bat in the middle order here in Australia. The tail starts from number seven. If you want to win more matches, the tail has to score. Look at Australia and South Africa. Their number nine and ten batsmen are scoring.

Q. What is your next aim as the captain of Pakistan?
A. Very simple. To become the number one team of the world. At the moment it is Australia who are dominating world cricket, but I think if we would have won the World Cup in England, we would have enjoyed the label of number one. I have the most talented cricketers in my team. Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and Saqlain Mushtaq are in charge of the bowling department. Ijaz, Youhana, Saeed, Inzamam are handling the batting. We have to be consistent. We must know how to extract the best of our talent. At the same time, we would have to win immediately a series of matches. To enhance our performance, we need to gain some more confidence by winning these matches.

Q. Your personal goal?
A. To win more matches for Pakistan.

Q. Would you try to break Kapil Dev's 434 Test wicket record?
A. A long way to go. I think Courtney Walsh would retire after he breaks Kapil's record. I had groin injury which is okay now. I would like to prepare myself to get past the milestone of 400 Test wickets. Then probably I will set my sights on the world record.

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