Handling pressure key to winning World Cup: Imran

Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 22:36 [IST]
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Karachi: Former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan on Tuesday said the team which was best equipped to handle pressure would win the forthcoming World Cup in southern Africa. Khan, who captained Pakistan to its only Cup win in 1992, said Australia had made a mistake by dropping its Test captain Steve Waugh from the World Cup squad as he was a proven performer under pressure. "For me it was a big mistake to drop Steve.

Australia might win the Cup but World Cup is all about taking pressure and Steve was good at it," Khan said about the man who led the Aussies to victory at the last World Cup four years ago in England. The eighth World Cup kicks off with a colourful opening ceremony in South Africa on February 8. The bulk of the matches will be held in South Africa with six in Zimbabwe and two in Kenya. The 50-year-old Khan said Australia was favourite to retain the trophy under new skipper Ricky Ponting.

"For me Australia is top favourite, South Africa will be tough on home conditions, while England has come back well in Australia and New Zealand has fighting capability and has made a good combination." Khan said Pakistan appeared to lack self-belief and the ability to scrap its way out of trouble. "There was a lack of fighting spirit in Pakistan's series in South Africa last month but I hope that with one win it can regroup and there would be no lack of motivation in the World Cup," he said.

Pakistan lost both Test matches and was defeated 4-1 in the One-day series in South Africa last month. Khan said the form of veteran all-rounder Wasim Akram, opener Saeed Anwar and speedster Shoaib Akhtar were vital for Pakistan to have any hope of success. "They have the firepower and should adopt an attacking mind set," said Imran who has carved out a new career as a politician since his retirement. He also suggested that star batsman Inzam-ul Haq should bat at number three to strengthen the early batting order.

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