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Resurgent Pak can beat any team in the world: Woolmer

Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Karachi:Pakistan's coach Bob Woolmer says his young team could be potential worldbeaters if they perform as well as they did during their tour of long-term rivals India.

Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq led an inexperienced Pakistan side, minus frontline pacers Shoaib Akhtar, Shabbir Ahmed and Umer Gul, to a 1-1 draw in the Tests and 4-2 win in the One-day series.

"Whatever I asked for was achieved on the tour of India. The real desire to achieve was there and if they play in the same manner they can beat any team in the world," Englishman Woolmer, 57, said.

Ahead of their first visit across the border in six years, former players and critics branded Pakistan the weakest team ever to tour India, but the underdogs showed remarkable team spirit to outclass the hosts.

"Despite the fact that we were underrated and dismissed as a team by some people, it proved a good tour and players made use of the lessons learnt on the Australian tour," said Woolmer, referring to the 3-0 Test defeat in Australia earlier this year.

Woolmer, who played 19 Tests for England and also coached South Africa, took over in June last year following Pakistan's home defeat in a historic series against India.

"I don't take all the credit but some of the credit. It's for others to judge my influence, but it is there," said Woolmer, who was severely criticised in Pakistan for his innovative and ever-experimenting coaching.

The Pakistan coach praised Inzamam for his leadership.

"Inzamam has matured as a captain, he has infused great team spirit. Within the team they have the resolve to grab the opportunities and every member helped everyone else," said Woolmer.

"Younis Khan did a fantastic job as vice-captain. The whole team chipped in and concentrated on small things which is a huge plus."

Woolmer described Pakistan's fightback to draw the first Test at Mohali as the turning point of the India tour.

"We did not bat longer on the Australian tour but in Mohali they turned it. For me the first Test fightback was the turning point of the tour," said Woolmer.

Pakistan were just 53 runs ahead with four wickets in hand at the start of the fifth and final day but wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal hit a maiden century and all-rounder Abdul Razzaq a 50 to save Pakistan from defeat.

The tourists lost the second Test at Kolkata before winning the final Test at Bangalore to remain unbeaten in India for a fourth time.

"For every tour we have a goal, so the goal before the tour was to win both the series. We failed in the one goal but we didn't do badly in Tests and achieved a lot against a side rated as second in the world," said Woolmer, whose side will soon tour the West Indies.

"Confidence is high and although I don't like to make predictions, with the team spirit we can achieve the best in the Caribbean as well."

Pakistan play two Tests and three One-day matches on their tour of the West Indies in May and June.

They also host England for three Tests and five One-day games later this year.

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