Pak seek foreign help to boost domestic game

Published: Monday, September 24, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni predicted that Twenty20 will catch fire with a vengeance back home following his team's unexpected victory in the first-ever world championships on Monday.

Dhoni, whose side had only ever played one Twenty20 international before the tournament in South Africa, said the public could not fail to be excited by the new format even if the Indian cricket authorities initially appeared luke warm.

"I think it will catch up in India as people love sixes, fours and excitement," said Dhoni whose big-hitting style had already made him an icon back home before his recent elevation to the captaincy.

"Before now, there's not been much Twenty20 but it will catch up and be huge in India," he added after their five-run victory over arch rivals Pakistan in the final.

The two-week tournament has changed the face of limited overs international cricket, with the packed houses and tight finishes in stark contrast to the bloated six-week 50 over World Cup held in the Caribbean earlier in the year.

Dhoni admitted that India's first-round exit in the West Indies had spurred on his young charges this time round, adding that their chances had also been boosted by the lack of expectations placed on them.

"There was a determination among us to do well as we had not done so in the last World Cup. Nothing much was expected of, there was no pressure -- that's why we were victorious."

India's victory was particularly unheralded given the absence of star batsmen such as Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar who all decided to take a rest before punishing home series against Australia and Pakistan.

While Dhoni has been confirmed as captain for 50-over internationals, India are still without a coach five months after Australian Greg Chappell resigned.

Dhoni refused to be drawn on whether a coach was actually needed, laughing: "No comment."

Meanwhile Dhoni's fellow newcomer as an international skipper, Pakistan's Shoaib Malik, admitted he would have a struggle on his hands to get his young charges to adjust to the rigours of five-day Test cricket when they host South Africa in just one week's time in Karachi.

"It's a bit difficult to come to Test cricket after they score bang-bang," Malik told reporters.

"But we are professionals and we will have a meeting and I will tell the guys: 'Please, it's Test cricket'."

Malik said Pakistan had every reason to be proud of their performance in getting to the final of the tournament, regardless of their eventual defeat.

Pakistan have suffered a nightmare last year which has included the death of their coach Bob Woolmer, the resignation of their skipper Inzamam ul-Haq and a drugs scandal.

"It's a great achievement for Pakistan," said Malik. "When we started we were not considered one of the favourites and we have come a long way."

Read more about: pakistan, twenty20, world cup
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