Johannesburg: Pakistan suffered a major blow ahead of Tuesday's World Cup clash against defending champions Australia when seasoned opener Saeed Anwar was ruled out due to injury. Anwar, hit on the elbow by teammate Shoaib Akhtar at the nets last week, will not be risked for the key game despite the best efforts of the team management to get him ready on time.
"Anwar's experience would have been invaluable but we have other options available," Pakistan captain Waqar Younis said. Left-handed Taufiq Umer is likley to take Anwar's place and open the batting with Shahid Afridi. Anwar, recalled after missing top class cricket since the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka last September, holds the world record of the highest individual one-day score - 194 against India. Waqar said the bowling strengths of the two sides, finalists at the last World Cup four years ago, will put the batsmen under pressure.
"The team which obviously bats better will win," he said. Australia has ruled international cricket as champions in both forms of the game, but their battles against Pakistan generate huge excitement. Pakistan boast the two leading wicket-takers in Wasim Akram and skipper Waqar, backed by the tearaway Shoaib and seasoned off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq. Australia, on the other hand, has a high-quality new ball attack of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee, followed by one of the great spinners of all time, Shane Warne.
"We have had problems with our batting but Inzamam-ul Haq, Younis Khan and Yousuf Youhana are in good nick and I hope they put us runs to fight," Waqar said. Waqar said the pressure will be on Australia since it is the defending champion and the favourite. Australian captain Ricky Ponting hinted he may open the bowling with Lee if conditions at the Wanderers are overcast. "It will be tough on Brett but Gillespie and McGrath have done the job for a long time, opening the bowling, and both are very good new ball bowlers. But if conditions are overcast Brett may open the bowling." Australia has decided not to risk playing One-day specialist Michael Bevan, who suffered a groin injury last month.
| Copyright AFP 2001 |