Malik confident Pakistan can achieve better results

Published: Friday, September 7, 2007, 9:42 [IST]
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Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik believes his new-look side can make an impression at the Twenty20 world championships and put their recent problems behind them.

Pakistan's problems stemmed from a humiliating first-round exit at the 50-over World Cup earlier in the year.

As if that was not enough, their coach Bob Woolmer died in the team's hotel while inspirational captain Inzamam-ul-Haq quit one-day cricket.

However, things started to fall into place again once Malik was handed the reins and former Australian paceman Geoff Lawson was appointed as new coach.

Surprisingly, Pakistan's preparations for the inaugural Twenty20 event have been unusually well-planned with three army-style camps and energy levels soaring with Lawson injecting a new aggression and the will to win.

"We have prepared extensively for the Twenty20 but since it is a very unpredictable brand of cricket we need to be at the top in all departments of the game," said Malik, who preferred specialists in the team.

Even prolific batsman Mohammad Yousuf, who amassed a world record of 1788 Test runs last year, and productive all-rounder Abdul Razzaq were left out to accommodate more agile legs needed for the rapid style of cricket.

"We have a balanced outfit and there are certain players who can change the complexion of the game," said Malik, signalling out explosive opener Imran Nazir, all-rounder Shahid Afridi and express paceman Shoaib Akhtar as his key men.

Nazir supplements a strong batting line-up which has specialists in Mohammad Hafeez, Malik, Younis Khan, Misbahul Haq, Afridi and Salman Butt - who have all honed their skills in domestic Twenty20 competitions.

New-ball pairing of Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, who both missed the World Cup in the Caribbean following a doping scandal, are eager to make amends.

"It is exciting to be back at international level and I feel Twenty20 will test every bowler to the hilt," remarked Akhtar, who has a lethal slower ball to beguile the best of batsmen.

The overall enthusiasm in the camp excites Lawson.

"I am quite happy to see their positive nature. They are keen to do well but in Twenty20 we can prepare strategies, try and find the right balance, work out plans and play any number of practice games but that can only take you so far. Until the first match happens, we won't really know what to expect."

Pakistan has only played two Twenty20 internationals (won one, lost one) but have given their players experience through domestic events since 2004.

"Most of the players in the side have played this format and have a good experience of it. Malik has an excellent grasp of the tactics in this format and all this will help," said Lawson.

Pakistan open their campaign with a match against Scotland at Durban before taking on India two days later.

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