We'll start as underdogs: Hussain

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2000, 0:10 [IST]
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Karachi: England captain Nasser Hussain on Monday said that his team would start as underdogs on their first tour of Pakistan in 13 years but added his players would not be push-overs.''Of course, they are one of the finest sides, playing in their backyard with a lot of talent at their disposal. But if we didn't think we could beat them, we wouldn't be here,'' Hussain told a news conference shortly after England's arrival for a 57-day tour.England will play three Tests and three One-day Internationals besides three first-class matches and two one-day warm-up games.

The first warm-up will be in Karachi on Friday, followed by the first One-day International on October 24.''Every time we go out in the middle for England we go with a conviction that we can win the match and the series,'' Hussain said.''But if we think we can beat Pakistan 3-0 we are surely mistaken. They are probably the second-best team after Australia and we have to be realistic about that,'' said Hussain, who also toured Pakistan in 1995-96 as England 'A' captain.Pakistan captain Moin Khan said the Pakistan Cricket Board's recent call for a judicial inquiry into allegations of match-fixing at last year's World Cup would not affect his players.

''The only thing that worries us is we have lost three home series on the trot,'' said Moin, referring to losses to Australia and Zimbabwe two years ago and to Sri Lanka earlier this year.''There will be more pressure on us because we will be playing at home and start as favourites,'' Moin said. Hussain declined to comment on the 1987-88 series controversy in which umpire Shakoor Rana and England captain Mike Gatting were involved in a finger-wagging incident in the second test at Faisalabad.''What happened in 1987? I was still at school then. So it has got nothing to do with me.

I am looking forward to a flat and good wicket at Faisalabad,'' he said.A day of play was lost after Rana refused to start the game until Gatting submitted an apology. Pakistan, who were reeling in the Test, salvaged a draw to win the series in Karachi 1-0.England have not toured Pakistan since then and have also not beaten Pakistan in a Test series since a home win 18 years ago. Besides the wins on home soil in 1983-84 and 1987-88, Pakistan also won series in England in 1987, 1992 and 1996.

But Hussain said England's recent form also gave him confidence. ''The only thing we remember is that we played excellent cricket in our summer and defeated Zimbabwe and the West Indies.'' The 3-1 win over West Indies was the first for England in 31 years.Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, also said it was a great boost to come here after a great English summer. ''But the wickets are different, so is the opposition. We have good quality bowlers who will be tested here,'' he said.(c) Reuters Limited.

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