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Pakistan pin hopes on Shoaib
Harish Kotian in New Delhi | November 21, 2007 22:08 IST
Shoaib Akhtar [Images] may have not exactly set the stage on fire in the one-day series but captain Shoaib Malik [Images] is hoping that the pace bowler will come up trumps in the upcoming three-Test series against India.
"I hope that if we win the Test series Inshallah, then Shoaib Akhtar will definitely play a vital role with the ball," Malik said in Delhi on Wednesday.
Shoaib finished with seven wickets in four matches in the ODI series, which the visitors lost 2-3. Left-armer Sohail Tanvir emerged as Pakistan's best bowler in the one-dayers, with a haul of eight wickets in four matches.
India will no doubt enter the Test series as favourites boasting of an experienced bowling line-up led by their captain and veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble.
However, Malik believes that both teams start on an equal footing and Pakistan batsmen are well equipped to counter the Indian slow bowlers. He believes that Pakistan's superior pace attack neutralises whatever advantage India boasts of with respect to their spin bowlers.
"I don't think any team has the edge. India do have three good spinners in Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh [Images] and Murali Kartik [Images] and their record speaks for itself. We also have a spinner in Danish [Kaneria] but our main strength is fast bowling," he said.
The Kotla track has traditionally supported slow bowlers and it was at this very venue in 1999 that Kumble took all 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan. But Malik says his fast bowlers are capable of troubling the Indian batsmen even on slow pitches.
"If you have seen over the years it is not necessary that fast bowlers can't do well on a spinning track. Even fast bowlers can be successful on pitches that are slow and turning," he said.
Malik believes that winning the last ODI in Jaipur even though they had already lost the series was a big boost.
"The victory in Jaipur did give us a boost even though we had already lost the series. I think that every match you win does boost your morale and at the moment all our players are confident," he said.