Rain abandonment bigger worry for Pak than Namibia

Published: Saturday, February 15, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Kimberley (South Africa): Pakistan goes into its World Cup match against Namibia on Sunday worried more by the uncertain weather than the quality of the opposition. Pakistan is expected to ride over the minnow to gain its first points in the tournament after being crushed by defending champion Australia in its opening match on Tuesday. A wash-out, which would mean sharing points, could be disastrous for the Pakistanis in their bid to qualify for the super six from Group 'A'. Rain denied the two teams practice on Friday at the De Beers Diamond Oval and the weather shows no signs of clearing even though a clear day has been forecast on Sunday. "We are keeping our fingers crossed the rain stays away," Pakistan captain Waqar Younis said. Waqar's first World Cup game as captain ended in disappointment not only due to the 82-run defeat to Australia, but also because he was ordered out of the attack by English umpire David Shepherd after bowling two beamers at century-maker Andrew Symonds. The Pakistani captain hoped the game against Namibia will help his team iron out its shortcomings. "We are not taking the Namibians lightly and will try to rectify some of the weaker links before our important game against England next week." Waqar said the tournament's format did not allow any team to be taken lightly. "You have to be at your best against lowly placed teams because you carry over points in the super sixes against the non-qualifiers as well," he said. Teams qualifying for the super six will carry forward full points earned against the other qualifiers from the group and one point from the non-qualifiers. Seasoned opener Saeed Anwar is set to return after missing the Australia match due to an elbow injury sustained by a short ball from teammate Shoaib Akhtar at the nets. "Anwar has recovered and we want to give him some match practice and also to Saqlain Mushtaq," said Waqar, who was criticised for excluding the off spinner in the first match. Namibian captain Deon Kotze said all the pressure was on Pakistan. "Realistically speaking, the Pakistanis are under pressure because no one expects us to win against a side full of legends like Wasim Akram, Waqar and Shoaib," Kotze said. "All the guys are excited to play Pakistan because we have seen them on television for years, but will not be awestruck." Namibia, which qualified for the World Cup by finishing second in the ICC Trophy in 2001, lost to Zimbabwe in a rain-curtailed match at Harare on Monday. Namibia's lone hope lies in the inconsistent Pakistanis having a bad day. "They are one of the top contenders but we know at times they are known to be very poor, like they were when they lost to Bangladesh at the last World Cup," Kotze said.

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