ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Canada v Pakistan, World Cup 2011, Group A, Colombo
Pakistan mull changes ahead of Canada game
March 2, 2011
Pakistan are striving to strike a balance between experimentation and momentum, always a tricky proposition, ahead of their group game against Canada at the R Premadasa on Thursday. Pakistan are currently unbeaten at the top of Group A, and have fielded unchanged line-ups in their first two games against Kenya and Sri Lanka.
Under normal circumstances they would be loath to change a winning XI, but an injury and an opportunity to rest senior players in what is still a long road ahead, is likely to see them make changes in personnel, if not strategy. Abdur Rehman is out with an adductor muscle injury, so Saeed Ajmal has a strong chance to make his World Cup debut.
Pakistan will also consider whether or not to rest Shoaib Akhtar; the management are keen to handle the 35-year-old fast bowler with care and he played a starring role in a full ten-over performance against Sri Lanka.
Wahab Riaz would be a more than able replacement, but as a former fast bowler, Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, knows that rest is not always the best way to go.
"We haven't decided on the team yet," Waqar said. "We are thinking about it [of resting Shoaib] but then again, at this age or time, sometimes rest is not good, because you want to get that rhythm and momentum going. You don't want to take too long a rest because it is too hot and you need to be used to that. So I'm not sure at the moment."
The magnitude of the event also means that Pakistan want to keep their best XI playing in every game for the sake of momentum and togetherness. "To an extent it is true but then this is a big tournament and you don't want to take a risk, you want to have you best team available to play every match so that you don't lose momentum," Waqar said. "There are a couple of niggles, like Misbah's [ul-Haq] hamstring, but he is okay. Rehman has a problem, but the tournament is such that we want to play our team every match.
"I don't think there is any easy match or one that can be taken lightly. We played well against Sri Lanka, but it's still early days. There are bigger teams ahead. It's good that we won against Sri Lanka, but tomorrow's another game and we need to come out and keep the momentum going."
Pakistan have only played Canada once in an ODI, an eight-wicket win at the 1979 World Cup, so this is unchartered territory for both teams. They met at a Twenty20 quadrangular tournament in Toronto in August 2008 but that is it. "We played against them last year in Canada  and we have seen a little bit of them," Waqar said. "We have seen the videos, so we are going to see the game before we play them tomorrow but we are fully prepared for every single game."
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Whatever happens, the Australia-New Zealand World Cup final at the MCG will be the most divine fun