Inzamam calls on Pakistan to fire in India

Published: Thursday, October 12, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Banned Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has urged his team mates to put the side's recent problems behind them at the Champions Trophy tournament in India.

Last month, Inzamam was handed a four-match suspension by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for bringing the game into disrepute for his role in the abandoned Oval Test and will not be in the 14-man squad for the One-day international event.

The side was plunged into a deeper crisis when Inzamam's deputy, Younis Khan, relinquished the captaincy for the Champions Trophy to protest against the attitude of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials.

The controversy led to the resignation of board chairman Shaharyar Khan last week and he was replaced by government advisor Nasim Ashraf, who convinced Younis to reverse his decision and lead the side in India.

''Obviously when you have such things happening before a major tournament it does have an impact on the players,'' Inzamam told Reuters in an interview today.

''They would have felt the pressure, but they are very strong and I would back them to put everything behind them and do well in such an important tournament.'' As Pakistan's most senior player with 113 Test and 367 One-day caps, Inzamam said he was confident the team would perform in India as there were no internal problems among the squad.

''What we did at the Oval (refusing to play) was a team decision.

What Younis did had nothing to do with any other player. So there is no lack of spirit and unity in the side,'' he added.

''They will back Younis to the hilt.'' Inzamam has been retained as captain for the home series against the West Indies starting next month but Ashraf said he would review his form and fitness before announcing the skipper for the tour of South Africa and next year's World Cup. The stylish batsman has captained the side since November 2003.

The 36-year-old Inzamam believes that Pakistan's chances in the Champions Trophy were enhanced by the team's experience on Indian pitches.

''We learnt a lot in England and some of our players struggled in those conditions, but they will be more comfortable playing in India and we do have a balanced outfit and a strong bowling attack,'' he added.

He said the Champions Trophy was ideal for Pakistan to assess their chances ahead of next year's World Cup in the Caribbean.

''If they do well in the Champions Trophy it will go a long way in improving our chances of winning the World Cup,'' he said.

''Once you win a major event it gives you confidence and confirms you have the temperament to compete against the best.'' Pakistan will open their campaign against either Sri Lanka or West Indies on Oct 17 before matches against New Zealand and South Africa.

Inzamam also made it clear the captaincy was not issue for him and he was more concerned with seeing Pakistan emerge as a top side again.

''The World Cup is obviously our main target from now on.

All the matches we play from here are preparations for that.''


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