The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hayden tips on how to handle Shoaib
Opener regards Afridi as most dangerous of Pak batsmen

Cape Town: Australian opener Matthew Hayden said his side will look to subdue the Pakistani pace machine when the two sides meet in the World Cup match next week.

But the prolific batsman refused to bite the bait of paceman Shoaib Akhtar who identified him as one of the main targets.

“It’s not my style to get into a war of words,” said Hayden. “My priority is to let my bat do the talking.”

Hayden and his teammates have nonetheless outlined a strategy to keep the strike bowler in check.

“We have seen plenty of him lately and his threat is two-pronged. First, Pakistan look to his explosive pace for breakthroughs with the new ball, openings that can be exploited by Waqar and Wasim Akram.

“Then he will come back later and look to use his pace allied with reverse swing,” Hayden said.

The opener, is his column in a London daily, has analysed Shoaib’s style of bowling saying: “He will rarely be at you for a long spell and three or four overs will usually be his norm. If we can see him off and even use his pace to our advantage as batsmen, then that will be a huge plus for us.”

Hayden does not wince in admitting the unpredictable Pakistan represent a massive challenge for the defending champions. “We will have to subdue their immense individual talents, a tall order if the match is played on a slow surface that will suit their style of play more than ours.

“For me, the key will be to ensure they do not get off to a flying start with either bat or ball. If we can do that, we can control the match.”

If Shoaib dominated Hayden’s attention in bowling, he reckoned Shahid Afridi as the most dangerous of all Pakistani batsmen.

“When we bowl, that will almost certainly involve the early removal of Shahid Afridi. If he gets going, it makes the job of players like Younis khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana that much easier.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating and we will see how we go against Pakistan, but so far we have been pretty happy with our build-up,” Hayden wrote.

Hayden said his side has been helped by their city base for the tournament — Potchefstroom, a two hour-drive from Johannesburg.

“Our focus has also been helped by our base ahead of the tournament. The city of Potchefstroom might not be on everyone’s first choice as a holiday destination but for us it has been perfect.

“It has sheltered us from outside distractions, offered us great practice facilities and also the chance to bond and work out our strategies for each of our group matches. It has also offered the opportunity for some relaxation and, for me, that has involved some fishing!” (Reuters)

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