The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India could give Aussies a run for their money
Iíd have liked to go out after a successful Cup, but this
is my kismat
Fast Track / Wasim Akram

It is difficult for me to comment on the recent developments in Pakistan cricket, since itís evident that I donít fit into further plans. Anything I say would be construed as sour grapes, but since I was already contemplating retirement, there is no bitterness inside me.

The PCB has done the right thing by appointing a part-time captain, but some of the other changes might just be cosmetic. I am concerned that none of these changes address long-term issues. The domestic structure, coaching at the grassroots and the future of the Pakistan team in 2007, have not been looked into.

SACHIN: Stuck to his brief
YUVRAJ: Livewire in the field

Changing the selector does not change the talent pool in the country, and changing the coach may not change the poor performances of some of the players in the team. It would be interesting to see what team is chosen for Sharjah. Make no mistake, it would be very, very difficult for a young, inexperienced team to take on strong sides like South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Personally, I have no regrets or ill feelings about the way things have turned out. I would have liked to go out after a successful World Cup, but this is what my kismat had in store, and when I look back over the last 18-19 years, I have no regrets.

The failure at the World Cup was a collective one and it would be unfair to single out players and make them scapegoats. I have had my innings at this level, but I do fear for some of the others. Away from our domestic upheavals, itís amazing to see the Indians and Australians gear up for a finals clash.

The biggest advantage India have is that the burden of expectations is squarely on Australia, especially after the way they trounced India in the league stage. This will mean that the Indians are more relaxed, tension-free and at ease.

They have been gelling well, and most of their players have struck form. The biggest change India made at the start of the tournament was to promote Sachin Tendulkar to the top of the order.

It was a brave, positive decision and Sachin stuck to his brief of looking to dominate at the start of the innings. India must stick to their combination because their batting looks more secure than it has for many years. Moreover, India has many options to fill in the fifth bowler, with Sourav Ganguly, Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag all able to roll their arm over with good results.

Sachin is definitely the key to Indiaís fortunes, but the team has some real talent later on as well. Rahul Dravid, Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh are really doing a great job in the middle and in almost every match they have contributed after Sachinís superb starts. The main difference between this side and Indian sides of the past is their attitude. This is reflected in their aggressive batting, bowling and superb fielding.

Guys like Yuvraj, Kaif and Dinesh Mongia are livewires on the field, and can give as good as they get. This Indian team is doing well because they are more confident of their abilities than any Indian side Iíve seen in the past. Their mental approach has been superb so far.

When India meet Australia in the finals, they have a very good chance of giving the defending champions a run for their money. Whatís more, I think if they play as well as they have right through this month, they might even emerge world champions once again, Bees Saal Baad.

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