Pak hopes to regain form in Champions trophy opener

Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2002, 23:00 [IST]
Share this on your social network:
   Facebook Twitter Google+    Comments Mail

Colombo: Pakistan goes into the opening match of the Champions Trophy One-day tournament against Sri Lanka on Thursday hoping to bridge the gap between potential and performance. The talented Pakistani side has been struggling to live up to expectations since a stunning 2-1 away win over World Cup champions Australia in a series of three One- day Internationals in June.Waqar Younis's team then went through a lean patch as it failed to qualify for the final of a triangular series against Sri Lanka and South Africa in Morocco before suffering a pair of defeats against Australia in Kenya. Adding to Pakistan's problems is the fitness of reliable batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, who missed a couple of matches in Kenya due to a heel-injury. "He's not fully fit, but we haven't ruled him out of the match against Sri Lanka," said Pakistani coach Mudassar Nazar on the eve of the day-night encounter. Skipper Younis said he had been looking forward to an improved performance from his batsmen in the crucial league match. A defeat will virtually knock Pakistan out of the competition, for the third team in the group is inexperienced Holland. Only one side will make it to the semi-finals from the three-team group. "We've been struggling with our batting," said Younis. "We haven't been able to score enough runs and give our bowlers a chance. I hope the team puts its recent form behind it and concentrates on winning the trophy. "We're starting afresh. We'll give our best and hopefully perform like champions. I think the pressure will be more on Sri Lanka as they're playing at home." Yousuf Youhana's inclusion has strengthened the Pakistani batting. He was sent back from Kenya without playing a match, apparently over differences with his captain. Pakistan will rely on their trio of fast bowlers - Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Younis - to put pressure on Sri Lanka, having depth in batting. Akhtar has already sounded a warning to his opponents, saying he is interested more in taking wickets consistently than in bowling fast. "It's important to take wickets and win matches. I'm not here to prove how fast I can bowl," said Akhtar. Akram, planning to retire after next year's World Cup in South Africa, is still one of the most skilful bowlers in the world, having grabbed more than 400 wickets in both Tests and One-dayers. Sri Lanka is the team in form, having beaten a formidable South Africa in the Morocco Cup final last month. The likely return of skipper Sanath Jayasuriya from a shoulder-injury augurs well for the hosts. The hard-hitting Sri Lankan opener was in excellent nick before dislocating his shoulder while fielding in the final against South Africa. "I'm feeling better now. My chances of playing the match look bright, but I'll have one more session with the physio before taking the final decision," said Jayasuriya. Pakistan: Waqar Younis (captain), Inzamam-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Imran Nazir, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Sami, Rashid Latif, Saeed Anwar, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Shoaib Mallik, Wasim Akram, Younis Khan and Yousuf Youhana. Sri Lanka: Sanath Jayasuriya (captain), Russel Arnold, Marvan Atapattu, Upul Chandana, Aravinda de Silva, Kumar Dharmasena, Dilshan Tillekeratne, Dilhara Fernando, Pulasthi Gunaratne, Hasantha Fernando, Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakkara and Chaminda Vaas.

ICC raises fresh controversy, bans Sahara logo
ICC trophy: On current form Aussies are favourites

Write Comments