Thatscricket - ODI Series - India~~s tour of Pakistan- Miandad retorts pressure not on home team

Published: Monday, March 29, 2004, 20:17 [IST]
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Islamabad:Pakistan coach Javed Miandad has fired the first salvo to kick off a war of words that is likely to dominate the highly charged India-Pakistan cricket series.

Countering Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly's comment in Kolkata on Tuesday that the pressure would be on the home team, the firebrand coach said "this theory is entirely wrong".

"Once the series starts, it will release the pressure on our players. I have advised the players to remain cool and normal," Miandad said in Karachi where he is supervising the team's training ahead of the first One-day International on Saturday.

"The boys are focussed and anxiously looking forward to the series. They are committed and raring to give a good performance," he said.

The wily cricketer, known as the 'old fox' for his on and off the field sledging skills, also vehemently denied that he was a defensive coach.

"I don't know, who has floated this theory about me," he said angrily. "It is absurd."

Referring to the aggressive approach he adopted during his hey days as batsman, Miandad said, "I always advise the boys to fight out. So calling me a cautious or defensive coach is meaningless."

The former batsman also said he did not view the series as a contest between Shoaib Akhtar and Sachin Tendulkar or Mohammad Sami versus Rahul Dravid.

"It would be Pakistan versus India and whoever plays like a unit will be successful. This series is more than just cricket. It is about building bridges between Pakistan and India and promoting peace. I would appeal to everyone in Pakistan to make combined efforts to ensure the series is held in a peaceful manner without any mishaps," not only in the One-dayers but in the three Test matches as well he said.

"I know there are a lot of expectations but I am more responsible than before and would not run away from my responsibility of being the spearhead. I would give my best," said Shoaib.

With Wasim Akram, who retired last year and Waqar Younis, although adamant he would play again, not being considered for the series, Shoaib will lead the Pakistan bowling attack.

Shoaib helped Pakistan win the Lahore Test against South Africa last year but was suspended for the next Test after he was charged of abusing South African tail-ender Paul Adams. Pakistan had to fight hard to avoid defeat in the second Test at Faisalabad.

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