Johannesburg: Pacemen Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram have seen it all. But as they reach the twilight of their careers, there’s one unfulfilled dream that still bothers them, beating arch-rivals India in the World Cup. And they will leave no stones unturned to achieve that goal when the two meet at Centurion Saturday.
“We want to win it badly. We have not done well in this World Cup so far. But I know we are yet to play to our true potential and I hope everything falls into place against India,” Waqar said.
“We can’t afford to lose any game now, but obviously playing India really adds to the pressure and excitement. We are playing against each other after nearly three years and probably the whole world will have its eyes fixed on the game.
“I would think it would be the showpiece match of this World Cup and I’m confident that we will not disappoint the whole nation,” Waqar told a Pakistani newspaper.
The last time the two met was in the Asia Cup in Dhaka on June 3, 2000, which Pakistan won by 44 runs. But in the World Cup matches, they have lost all three — in 1992, 1996 and 1999.
Akram, who has been around for 18 years, is no stranger to the pressure that surrounds these games.
“The hype was similar in 1999. The organisers went crazy with the security, but nothing untoward happened and the better team won,” Wasim said.
“I think even on Saturday the better team will triumph and people will be matured enough to accept that.”
However, he conceded that he was also feeling the pressure. “Yes I know it is very special for many people. And we are all praying to give our best. India have a very strong batting line-up and they have found some degree of form.
“As it is we have held the psychological edge over them over the years, but if we play totally to our potential, we can beat them,” he said.
Akram added he had no personal animosity with any Indian player and there won’t be any tension on field.
“I know Sachin, Sourav fairly well. Zaheer and Ashish have called me up a couple of times to seek some advice.”
He said he would not be targeting any specific Indian batsman. “Ideally, I would like to get all their top players.”
Both Waqar and Akram, however, felt that Inzamam-ul-Haq has to fire. “Inzamam is a class player and he has always delivered. This time, we just have to keep faith in him and hope he does it,” Waqar said.
Top Pakistan batsman Yousuf Youhana also issued a veiled threat to India saying his side has reserved its best for their arch-rivals.
“...Because we play India after nearly three years, it should bring out the best in us,” Youhana said. “Playing against India should bring us closer and make us fight harder,” the swashbuckling batsman said.
The top batsman added that the spirit and atmosphere in the team was the best he had seen in a long, long time. “We are all seniors and we discuss everything together and do what is best for the team. There is nothing wrong in the team and there are no problems at all. Everyone knows what this team is really capable of when it plays to its true potential.”