Younis hopes to play India in the final
Pakistan captain Younis Khan finds himself in a unique position as his men take on Australia tomorrow in Centurion. Already through to the semi-finals, a third win in the group might help India, should they beat West Indies in Johannesburg, to join them in the final four.
Though Pakistan will experiment with their line-up against Australia to account for injuries as well as giving their bench strength a run, there will be no let-up in their approach. There is even a part incentive, says Younis, in the hope perhaps of playing against India in the final.
"I am just planning about each game as it comes," Younis said. "I wish for India to play in the final against us but we will not worry about that in our game tomorrow. We'll be trying our best. My wish is to win against the top teams, like South Africa, Australia and India. There is nothing in my mind about losing to Australia, and whether India will be out. It is only about what I can do for my country."
When Pakistan beat India by 54 runs at Centurion, it was one of the best-attended games in the tournament, in which crowds have generally been poor. The game was sold out two weeks prior to the match being played, prompting Younis to call for more games between the two neighbours.
Currently, relations between the two countries have cooled considerably from the mid-2000s, following the Mumbai terror attacks last year. That, in turn, has affected cricketing relations between the two and, until the Centurion game, they had not played each other in an international in over a year.
"Who was the biggest winner when we played at Centurion? Cricket. India and Pakistan should play. If we do not play, cricket will not benefit. Players become big names when they perform in these matches. The biggest sold-out crowd here was for that game."
Younis did, however, ask for these games to be treated as normal matches, appealing for calmer reactions from fans on both sides following good or bad results. "We lost to India in the Twenty20 final. Then we beat them the other day, what difference does it make? If we win a final, we'll be so happy anyways that we won't care which team we beat. All I say is, keep it normal. Don't hype us up too much if we beat India, or don't bring India down so much if they lose. This is not how life should be on winning or losing. Life should go on as normal. If Dhoni loses then don't get after him or get after us if we lose. Leave sports as sports."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo