'Take the game in the right spirit'
As cricket lovers keenly await the India-Pakistan world cup semi-final clash, Pakistan's former captain Shoaib Malik on Tuesday said the game should be taken in the right spirit and not as if it is a battlefield.
"It is a game and it should be taken in that spirit and not as if it is a battlefield," Malik, who is married to Indian tennis sensation Sania Mirza, said.
"We should appreciate a player if he is performing well, no matter which team he belongs to. The team which will play better on that day will win," he said.
Malik also said that winning the toss will be an advantage on that pitch.
Image: Shoaib Malik
Photographs: Getty Images
Pak team fumes over timing of minister's match-fixing warning
Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik's public warning to the national cricket team against match-fixing has left the visiting squad fuming over the timing of the statement.
Sources in the national team revealed that the players were 'really angry' after being told about Malik's comments, but they decided not to react.
"Initially, nobody believed that a minister can issue such a warning so close to what is very, very important match for us," The News quoted a player, as saying on the condition of anonymity, while referring to Pakistan's eagerly-awaited World Cup semi-final against India at the PCA Stadium on Wednesday.
"All of us are aware that match-fixing has been an issue for the Pakistan team, but what really have angered us is the timing and the manner in which this warning has been issued. It made us feel really bad," added the player.
Malik's statement also drew sharp reactions from former players, and Imran Khan, who led Pakistan to their only World Cup triumph in 1992, even questioned the minister's English language skills.
"The minister does not have a very good command on the English language so he must have meant something else. If one wants to stamp out corruption, the boards and the ICC need to get more vigilant. Spot-fixing is difficult to pick and the only way one can identify the same is when accounts of cricketers are disclosed," he was quoted as saying in an interview.
Another former captain Aamir Sohail said that Malik should have conveyed this message to the players privately.
"The timing and the way of the statement are not right. He should have told the players personally rather than telling it out in the media. However, there are fears of match-fixing in the semi-final," he said.
Image: Fans celebrate as a Pakistan flag is draped over a balcony in Dhaka during Pakistan's quarter-final against West Indies
Photographs: Getty Images
Youngsters have brought energy in Pakistan team: Mohsin
With the stage all set for their high-profile World Cup semi-final against India at Mohali on Wednesday, Pakistan's chief selector Mohsin Khan has said that induction of young blood in the squad has worked wonders for the controversy-ridden team in the ongoing tournament.
Mohsin also expressed confidence that the Shahid Afridi-led side can pull off a win in the much-anticipated match, which will be attended by the Prime Ministers of both India and Pakistan.
"I think this has worked very well for us. These youngsters have not only lifted the fielding standards but also brought in energy into the team," the former Test player said.
Mohsin said giving new players a chance in the national team by replacing some of the seniors was part of a well-thought out process for the betterment of Pakistan cricket.
"This is not to suggest anyone has not contributed to the team but the introduction of new players has also brought in an element of competitiveness into the team for places and that is always good for a team," he stressed.
He said playing the World Cup semi-final was by itself a big achievement for the Pakistan team considering the problems they had faced in the recent months.
"I don't think this team will bow down without a fight in the semi-final although it is a high pressure match. No one expected them to come this far and now they are just two matches away from a remarkable achievement. I am confident they will give their best in the match," Mohsin said.
"I think the players are ready for the match and the pressure that comes with an Indo-Pak match especially in a World Cup," he added.
Mohsin also defended under-fire wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal but hinted a limited role for him in the future.
The chief selector indicated that Kamran may no longer be considered for Test matches,
"I think it has been a lot of pressure on him and that has affected his performances. We brought him in for the World Cup because we see him as a top one-day player," Mohsin said.
Kamran's younger brother, Adnan Akmal has kept wickets for Pakistan in the last two Test series against South Africa and New Zealand.
He also made it clear that the only reason for picking veteran fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar in the World Cup squad was his raw pace and experience but refused to speculate whether he will be played in tomorrow's match.
"When they want to play him is entirely the decision of the tour selection committee," Mohsin added.
Image: Saeed Ajmal celebrates with Asad Shafiq