Thatscricket - Wish your star
Published: Saturday, November 10, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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Hong Kong: Former captain Wasim Akram has voiced fears that Pakistan cricket could suffer a major setback if the military campaign in Afghanistan drags on.[an error occurred while processing this directive]"Hopefully all the problems in our part of the world will be over soon. If we don't get tours coming into Pakistan, it will cost us. Our whole team, including myself, will go back one year," Wasim said on Saturday.The left-arm fast bowler who is in Hong Kong to spearhead Pakistan's charge at the $ 250,000 Hong Kong International Sixes, was critical of New Zealand's decision to pull out of this month's tour to Pakistan due to safety reasons following the September 11 attacks."Most of Pakistan is safe. There are no problems at all in places like Lahore where I come from, and Karachi. Of course there are concerns on the borders with Afghanistan, but generally Pakistan is safe," Wasim said.Ironically, organisers of the Hong Kong tournament have benefitted from New Zealand's move. The pullout led to the Pakistan Cricket Board sending a full-strength team for the tournament which is being revived after three years.Apart from Wasim, captain Rashid Latif, Shahid Afridi, Azhar Mahmood and Abdur Razzaq all played in the Champions Trophy in Sharjah last week, which Pakistan won by beating Sri Lanka by five wickets in the final. But Wasim is concerned for the future, which looks bleak for Pakistan cricket."West Indies are due in mid-February and I hope things will have settled by then. Otherwise we will have to look at neutral venues. If we do not play cricket, it will cost us. I need to play as much cricket as I can. This is what keeps me going. My aim is to continue until the World Cup and then say bye bye," said Wasim who is the only cricketer to have taken more than 400 wickets in both Test and One-day Internationals.Wasim, 35, showed his class as he led Pakistan's charge into the semi-finals at the Hong Kong Sixes. The left-armer bowled superbly against England. He gave away only one run in his over and also took the wicket of Ian Blackwell as England struggled to 48 from their five overs. Pakistan knocked off the runs with an over to spare.In the next game against the United Arab Emirates, Wasim was as miserly, conceding seven runs and taking another wicket as Pakistan restricted UAE to 79 for two, chasing a total of 108. Akram also contributed with the bat, smashing 33, including four sixes."I'm still enjoying my cricket. This is what keeps me going," Wasim said. Eight teams, including hosts Hong Kong, vying for the $ 80,000 first prize. Apart from Pakistan, a Jonty Rhodes-led South African team also looked good value for money as it beat India and Sri Lanka to ensure its berth in the semi-finals.
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