Australia v Pakistan, Champions Trophy, Group B, Centurion

'We could be fielding a different team' - Younis

Osman Samiuddin in Centurion

September 29, 2009

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Younis Khan speaks to reporters, Karachi, September 16, 2009
Younis Khan: "I always say I want to rest but my boys and management say you have to play" © AFP
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Already through to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy, Pakistan are likely to experiment with their line-up against Australia in Centurion tomorrow, to compensate for injuries and to give fringe members of the squad a game.

The abandoned match in Centurion between Australia and India meant Pakistan qualified for the semis irrespective of what happens against Australia and the opportunity to give the likes of Mohammad Asif, Iftikhar Anjum and Fawad Alam a game is unlikely to be missed. One enforced change will be made in any case; Imran Nazir split the webbing on his right hand while fielding early on against India and stitches have yet to be removed from the wound.

"We could be fielding a different team tomorrow," Pakistan captain Younis Khan said. "Nazir has stitches and it could take six or seven days. My plan was to play him in the next game because I know he will play one big innings in this tournament, whether in the semis, the final or against Australia.

"Mohammad Asif is also here and people expected him to play against India which is why we didn't play him. He deserves a place and others like Fawad and Rao [Iftikhar Anjum] also should play. We have to manage that so one or two changes will be there."

Nazir's absence, though he has yet to make a significant contribution in the tournament, leaves Pakistan with no specialist openers. Kamran Akmal has been opening this year and Shoaib Malik is likely to join him, having played at the top often and with some success. "In ODIs and T20s you do not have specialists. Malik has made runs as opener, he scored from four against India. In ODIs I am flexible also, I can bat there. I don't think it makes a difference - even Shahid Afridi has opened, and Fawad Alam has opened in Tests now."

Given how little Pakistani openers - specialist or otherwise - have contributed over the last few years, Younis' unconcern over the issue is understandable. The captain himself will also play, with his fractured finger, as he did against India. He wouldn't have minded a break, he said, but the team management and his side persuaded him to change his mind.

"I always say I want to rest but my boys and management say you have to play. I discussed with the team but they all wanted me to play. You have to make sacrifices and my team wants me to play so I will."

Nothing, Younis said, will be drawn from Pakistan's 2-3 loss in an ODI series in Dubai and Abu Dhabi earlier this year, of for that matter their poor record against them generally. "I don't think past results against Australia will count. Two days ago we won a big, tough game but if we lose in the semis, we are out. We shouldn't look at when we beat them on that date and so on. There is no guarantee to anything - Ponting is in great form but there is no guarantee he will score tomorrow. History changes all the time. They are a top side and played very well against India yesterday."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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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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