Pak still has firepower to match Aussies in WC: Raja

Published: Sunday, January 5, 2003, 17:55 [IST]
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Karachi: Former captain Rameez Raja on Sunday insisted Pakistan has the firepower and the will to put behind it its recent poor form and match world champions Australia in the forthcoming World Cup in southern Africa. "No doubt Australia looks in a different league with its current domination but I would maintain that Pakistan still has the firepower and the will to put everything behind it and match Australia in the big event," said Raja, a key member of Pakistan's 1992 Cup winning team. "Even after our recent results, Pakistan's team has the ability to rise to top four in the World Cup," Raja said. Pakistan meet Australia in their opening match of the World Cup in Johannesburg on February 11. "Australia has talent and method while Pakistan is lacking in method and they need to overcome that through aggression because World Cup is all about aggression," Raja, 40, said. "Australians use and execute the talent in a remarkable manner and their decisions once they win the toss outsmart other teams.

" Raja, now a director of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), said Pakistan's bowling attack is the deadliest in the world. "With Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram and Mohammad Sami we have the deadliest attack in the world in which all bowlers are wicket taking," he said. "Our grey area is the top order batting and we need to find the right combination in the World Cup," he said. "All top teams (such as) Australia, South Africa and India have stability in their top order." Pakistan beat Australia in the Super Challenge Series held in Australia in June last year but since then lost twice to Australia and Sri Lanka in three matches each and was beaten in four of its five One-day games against South Africa. "I think our win in Australia should have been the spring board to carry Pakistan as the top team in the World Cup but then we had injuries and youngsters failed to cope with the pressure," he said. Pakistan lost three of its four games in the inaugural Morocco Cup in August which triggered a downslide culminating on a 3-0 rout at the hands of Australia in the Test series played at neutral venues. It revived some fortunes with a 5-0 One-day series win in Zimbabwe in November last year but went down 4-1 in the One-day series and is 1-0 down in the on-going two- match Test series in South Africa.

"Australians still rate us high because they know we have the flair and can beat them on our day," said Raja, who played 57 Tests and 192 One-day games for Pakistan. Raja agreed Pakistan is known for its inconsistency but said he still finds positive aspects in the team. "I take the inconsistency tag in a positive manner because our players are individually brilliant and at times they bulldoze overall planning," he analysed. Then former captain put his weight behind current captain Waqar. "Waqar has a good overall winning ratio and his attitude, commitment and handling of the team are excellent so we should back him and the team before the grand event." Pakistan is placed in Pool 'A' alongside Australia, England, India, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands and Namibia, with the top three teams going forward to the super Sixes stage. The eighth World Cup begins with an opening ceremony in Cape Town on February 8.


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