| Wasim Akram |
Mumbai: Wasim Akram thinks its high time the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) named Shahid Afridi as the World Cup captain. Speaking to reporters at a promotional here on Thursday, the former Pakistan captain said that if India can handle home pressure, they will be the team to beat. Akram also spoke at length about the forthcoming showpiece event and Pakistans chances.
The following are excerpts
Whether Pakistans delay in naming the captain for the World Cup is justified
I dont know the reasons behind the delay. On their day, Pakistan can be a real dangerous side. But first and foremost, the captain has to be named. Even Shahid Afridi, who is the strongest contender for the post, must be under pressure. The sooner the captain is named, the better for the team.
On the best bet to lead the side
I would go for Afridi. Although Misbah is performing well, hes not a magician like Afridi. Not only that, Afridi has been the captain for a reasonable period of time. The World Cup is too close to change a captain. They have come back well in New Zealand to clinch the series. It shows that Afridi has the skill to lead the side. Last year, he was the highest wicket-taker and also one of the top run-getters. Pakistan team mein captain kahan milte hai. Ek nahi milta hai, to kahan se doosra milega. Usko (Afridi) rakho ab.
Whether Pakistan will miss the services of Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Aamer
Both are talented and top-class bowlers. Absence of such wicket-takers will definitely make a difference. But Pakistan have made it a habit of playing well under pressure. Their problem is that they tend to relax when not under pressure. However, Umar Gul is bowling well, Shoaib Akhtar is back and Wahab Riaz is doing well too. Pakistans backup is excellent.
Bowling on subcontinent pitches
Good luck to the bowlers who will bowl in the last Powerplay overs. Its very difficult. Now, the batsmen have found out new ways of scoring quickly, like employing the short sweep or making room to hit the ball. The bowlers have to adapt fast.
I have been saying for quite a while that India are one of the favourites. But a lot depends on the fitness of the players. Also, the pressure of playing in front the home crowd will have to be kept in mind. I have the experience of playing two World Cups in Pakistan and India. So, I know what pressure it can be. Sachin (Tendulkar) will tell you what pressure is all about, when playing at home. Apart from India, Australia are looking good. One cannot rule out Sri Lanka and South Africa, either. Once the quarters are reached, it cannot be anybodys Cup.
Whether this will be a special World Cup for Sachin
The Indian team have a goal. They hope to lift the Cup for the nation, fans and the team. But Sachin is special. Hes done a lot for India and if the team wants to motivate him this way, by wanting to win the Cup for him, then, why not?