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World Cup 2011

Waqar not looking beyond Australia

Osman Samiuddin in Pallekele

March 15, 2011

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Ahmed Shehzad is stumped, Pakistan v Zimbabwe, World Cup, Pallekele, March 14, 2011
Waqar Younis on Ahmed Shehzad: "He's probably learnt a big lesson today that when the team needs you at the wicket, you should stay" © Associated Press
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Players/Officials: Waqar Younis
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Teams: Pakistan

Pakistan may have qualified for the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time since 1999 but their coach Waqar Younis is not prepared to look beyond their final group game against Australia just yet. Pakistan slipped to second place in Group A after a seven-wicket win over Zimbabwe in Pallekele on Monday, but could still finish in any of the top four positions depending on what happens against Australia, and in other games.

Waqar said he wasn't thinking about whom his side might play in the quarter-finals. "Right now we are thinking of only Australia," Waqar said. "If you win that game, then your morale will be such that you won't worry about any team you play."

Barring a shock loss to Canada, Australia will go into Saturday's game on a 34-match unbeaten streak in the World Cup, stretching back to the 1999 tournament. Their last loss, in fact, came against Pakistan, at Headingley. Ricky Ponting's team is the only unbeaten side in this tournament.

"You have an option [whereby] you could play the No. 4 team [from the other group] whose morale will be down," Waqar said. "But momentum is very important and necessary. Australia are such a big team, world champions, and they haven't lost for ages. That is an opportunity. If you beat them, you leave a mark. You can look at the next matches and teams will think twice about playing against you. The bigger thing is the momentum of beating the world champions and the confidence it gives you. That game is important."

As Sri Lanka did against Australia in a game that was eventually washed out in Colombo, Pakistan might consider playing a spin-heavy attack, though with Shahid Afridi, Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Hafeez already in the XI, they are pretty well stocked.

"The strategy will be very similar," Waqar said. "Try to play 50 overs first, pile up a big total, that's the key. And then, when you look at bowling sides around the world, I think we have a fairly good bowling side. If we can put a handsome total, we stand a good chance of winning that match. Or if we bowl them out cheaply, we have a good chance of chasing it."

There remained, Waqar insisted, further room for improvement within the side and part of his concern was directed specifically at two young batsmen, Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal. Shehzad failed for the fifth match running, stumped trying to slog Ray Price. He now has 44 runs in the tournament and is a prime candidate for the axe.

"We're thinking of building an opening partnership, that is the first point," Waqar said. "It was a rash shot from Shehzad. It wasn't really required at the time. But don't forget he is a youngster, he is only 21 and brand new in this arena. It's not easy sometimes. In the heat of the moment you play silly shots and that's how you learn cricket. He's probably learnt a big lesson today that when the team needs you at the wicket, you should stay."

The more cutting observation was for Umar, who was for the second time in his short career, the subject of speculation about faking an injury to support his elder brother Kamran. Umar didn't play against Zimbabwe and when Waqar was asked about the reasons behind it, he smiled, waited and said, "He has two or three problems." He pulled back immediately, clarifying that there was a finger injury as well as an ankle injury picked up during a football session, but the comment will only fuel talk that the team management is not happy with Umar's attitude.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Amol on (March 18, 2011, 2:50 GMT)

Beating AUS could not have been more crucial for PAK because this result is going to actually decide whether PAK will finish right on Top (A1) or just about Last (A4) Qualifying position because most probably SRL will defeat NZL. Beating AUS means exposing them to most probably IND, if not SA, right in the Quarters.

Posted by qasim on (March 17, 2011, 22:53 GMT)

Against aussies Pakistan need to play aggresive cricket period. There is only one way play your best. pakistan team. 1. hafeez 2. afridi ( Give it a try it worked many times before it may just work this time) 3. asad shafiq 4. younis 5. misbah 6. umar 7. kamran 8. razzaq 9. umar 10.ajmal 11. shoaib ( this is a winning team for us and the order of play is very crucial ) WAQAR BHAI PLEASE USE THIS ORDER WE NEED TO WIN THIS MATCH.

Posted by Cric on (March 17, 2011, 19:30 GMT)

It's time Ahmed Shahzad and Kamran Akmal switch their responsibilities, Ahmed Shahzad becomes wicket keeper and Kamran becomes opener.

Posted by Shaquib on (March 17, 2011, 18:12 GMT)

Asad Shafig is the appropriate replacement for Shehzad

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 17, 2011, 13:25 GMT)

razzaq n hafeez should give the chance 2 open the innings

Posted by M. Thahir on (March 17, 2011, 11:08 GMT)

I think shehzad should be given one oppurtunity to prove his worth. Razzaq should be promoted to no.3 so that he will get a lot of overs to bat. Afridi should be used in the slog overs. He needs to use controlled aggression like sehwag so that he could hit more runs and shouldnt go wild .All the best pakistan, relieve headingley 1999

Posted by mustafa on (March 17, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

plz LEAVE out Shoaib for now !!!canot win world cup while being no threat with your bowling ! 20 - 28 runs an over ??? and re-think razzaq's role in the team.... both akmals are good withthe bat and we need them but kamran needs to WAKE up behind the stumps!!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 17, 2011, 5:25 GMT)

Pakistan must keep attention at their opening pair, and bowlers have to focus at taking wickets not only for runs saving

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 17, 2011, 5:23 GMT)

Waqar, tell Ahmed Shahzad to stay in in crease & play else his end will be same as Imran Nazir's. There is no need to hurry, as 5+ avg in first 10 overs is pretty good, provided no wkts are lost.

Goodluck against Aussies & may Allah be with them.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 17, 2011, 3:54 GMT)

HI to all my PLAYERS! I would like to say to Pakistani batsmen to stay at the crease minimum of 5 overs and to get minimum 30 runs for their own score board. And all the bowlers should take minimum 1 wicket for ten over with giving below 5.00 run rate per over! I wish Pakistan to reach the finale as well as win the WORLD CUP for their FANS!

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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