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March 12, 2007

World Cup 2007

Only Australia block the road to victory

Kamran Abbasi
Pakistan get together for a team huddle before the match, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd match, Jaipur, October 17, 2006
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Pakistan's preparation for the World Cup has been a rollercoaster of hope and despair, a journey that has driven supporters to the edge of madness. Many of you already consider me to be a raving lunatic and to those people I offer further evidence. Pakistan have nobody to fear in this tournament and might just have the mix of experience and hunger to lift the trophy.

Experience resides in the right place, the mighty middle order. Michael Slater questioned their ability to win matches but he is sadly mistaken. This is a double mistake if the pitches continue to play anything like they did in the warm ups. What this trio have lacked is the support of the openers but Caribbean conditions will offer Pakistan a genuine opportunity to establish an opening partnership of substance. Indeed, both Imran Nazir and Mohammad Hafeez will be hungry for success.

Hunger will also drive the bowling attack. Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami, and Danish Kaneria - my first choice attack depending on pitch conditions - have enough experience but also something to prove. There should be nothing stale about Pakistan's bowling attack, with Azhar Mahmood, Shahid Afridi, and Mohammad Hafeez a worthy support cast.

Since Rana Naved-ul Hasan, Iftikhar Rao, and Yasir Arafat have something to offer - death bowling, consistency, or all-round ability - Pakistan have plenty of bowling options. Even in the absence of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, it is a bowling attack that can potentially compete with any in the tournament. It also comes with the added bonus of being under-rated by most cricket pundits, an estimate based more on ignorance than sound judgment.

Australia remain the only team that pose a special challenge. Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, and Andrew Symonds were three good reasons why Australia's form has slumped in recent weeks. Indeed, Symonds offers wonderful balance to the Australian team. If those three fire Australia will be tough to beat, and that's before the possibility of Shaun Tait's speed and reverse swing creating a sensation in this World Cup. Yet, although England and New Zealand wouldn't be my favourites to win, they have done the other leading teams a favour by reminding Australia of their mortality.

Pakistan have arrived with a deceptively strong squad of players, some of whom must make a name for themselves in this tournament just as Inzamam did fifteen years ago. At this moment in time the road to victory looks far less difficult than it might have been. Much hinges, once again, on Inzamam's leadership and all Pakistan supporters will be rooting for him--in Urdu, English, and many different languages--to rise to the occasion. In a few hours time we will get the first indication of whether or not Pakistan have the intent to match their considerable potential. I have a crazy notion that the lunacy of the last six months must have been building to a glorious finale.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Ozzie on (March 16, 2007, 23:22 GMT)

As an Australian I really would like to think that this was true, however after watching South Africa's performance today I am really not that sure anymore that Australia is the only ones to block the road.

Posted by normy qp on (March 16, 2007, 11:58 GMT)

wat on earth is wrong with pakistanis.lets start from the top bob woolmer say goodbye and go 2 england jus like you want to or your beloved south africa. inzamam captain? you would be better off with my grandma at least shel get something through to the players. ponting fleming smith vaughan dravid jayawardena all bat 1,2,3 hes not a captain and is in no form.ranas goose was cooked long ago but because he grew a beard hes back in the side there not going to win it so stop kamran coz u no its jus to attract media

Posted by Gollumbird on (March 14, 2007, 20:52 GMT)

Kamran, looks like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed when you wrote this. Zim and Ire would be licking their lips at the sight of playing us. Who is kidding who?

Posted by chudhary on (March 14, 2007, 20:36 GMT)

lets focus on getting to next round at the moment & hope younis & hafeez won't attempt these kinda shots again :)

Posted by Amyn Habib on (March 14, 2007, 17:33 GMT)

You have written a lot of entertaining articles in this forum. But this has to be the funniest.

Posted by Taimur Huk on (March 14, 2007, 16:39 GMT)

guys dont give up hope yet. we're still alive in the cup. think positively. this team still has what it takes to win the cup. we will learn from the mistakes today and inshallah, we will win the world cup.

Posted by Johnny B on (March 14, 2007, 9:56 GMT)

Sorry guys, I've been warning you for weeks that Pakistan suck now. Quite simply, no team can lose 3 star players and expect to compete with other top teams - England did abysmally in ODI's after the Ashes because they lost Vaughan, Jones and at least 1 other bowler through injury in every game until now. Oz lost Symonds, Punter and Gilly and got whipped by NZ.

Really, you should just chalk this WC down to experience - get yourselves a stricter drugs policy, and start playing by the same rules as everyone else.

Posted by Taimur Huk on (March 14, 2007, 5:16 GMT)

i am still confident about pakistan's chances despite the loss today. but australia ain't the only team blocking are path. all the teams are even and they all have an equally good chance of winning the cup. INSHALLAH, PAKISTAN WILL LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES AND IMPROVE IN THE MATCHES TO COME!

Posted by Taimur Huk on (March 14, 2007, 5:10 GMT)

this is in response to rajesh singh: who in the world is rahul dravid. inzi may not be the best of captains, but rahul ain't no better. so inzi doesn't need to seek any advice from dravid. IN YOUR FACE!!

Posted by Rahimm Khann,UK on (March 14, 2007, 1:58 GMT)

Oh Mr Abbasi, Australia is biggest hurdle right. But before that there is a minor hicupp like Ireland,Zimbabwe,NZ,ENG,IND,SA,SL on the road to a match with incredible Aussies. Lets see what happens with these minor hicupps which we will likely blow away based on the performance against WI. Afterall the performance was top class today with the captain leading from the front,the batsman playing with great application and in great form and finally the world class bowling which blew away the opposition,not to mention the exceptional fielding and the catches taken by our fielders,and of course our fantastic opening pair. I am damn sure all other teams in the WC must be shivering at the prospect of meeting Pakistan,and surely the Indians must be having nightmares already about facing us.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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