Yousuf tips Pakistan to succeed
Mohammad Yousuf believes Pakistan are favourites against New Zealand in the second Champions Trophy semi-final in Johannesburg on Saturday. "We have fought and played well in all of our three games so far," Yousuf said. "The entire team gave a good performance and our morale is high. I think we are favourites in the semi-final and I hope we win this match.
"Anything can happen in one-day cricket, but if you consider the performances of both the sides, I think we have an upper hand. No doubt, they [New Zealand] played really well in their last two matches against Sri Lanka and England. Their pace bowling is really good, especially with the return of Shane Bond. It will be a good contest."
Pakistan qualified for the semi-finals after finishing second in Group A, with four points from three matches. They beat West Indies and India before narrowly losing to defending champions Australia in their previous game. "We won a good match against India and I think the match we lost yesterday [against Australia] was the best game of the tournament as it was decided on the last ball," Yousuf said. Pakistan were in a strong position to win the low-scoring encounter in Centurion when they had Australia to 187 for 8, but Brett Lee and Nathan Hauritz were involved in a fighting stand that saw their team through to a nerve-wracking victory.
Yousuf, 35, who has scored 9450 runs in 275 one-day internationals, said the in-form spinners, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi, could well turn the tide in Pakistan's favour. "The advantage is that our spin bowling is very good," he said. "With the arrival of Ajmal, our spin bowling has been strengthened. Ajmal and Afridi have been bowling really well in recent times. This is the main reason why our team has reached the semi-final here and also won the World Twenty20 in England this year."
Australia will take on England in the first semi-final at Centurion tomorrow.