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Healy, Jones to watch opposition
February 09, 2003 16:37 IST
Pakistan wicketkeeper Rashid Latif says it does not matter if his side loses to India in the World Cup.
They face their neighbours and Group A rivals on March 1, and although Latif realises the significance of the grudge match, he believes winning the World Cup is more important.
"We're obviously focused on beating India, because of the traditional rivalry," the 34-year-old said.
"But if we lose to India and then win the World Cup, our defeat to them won't really matter.
"There was a lot of pressure in the past when we used to play regularly, but that has lessened in recent years because we haven't really faced each other that often.
"To many cricket fans around the world this will be the showcase match of the tournament. So, of course, we'll want to win, but the rest is in God's hands."
South Africa captain Shaun Pollock believes India's batting line-up will be among the best at the World Cup.
Pollock, who leads the hosts out against the West Indies in the opening match on Sunday, is adamant the pitches in South Africa will suit India's style of play.
"India's batting is very solid. Their batsmen can demolish any team on their day," he said.
Pollock then paid a special tribute to India captain Sourav Ganguly.
"The speed at which Sourav dispatches his shots to the boundary is something amazing.
"If I remember rightly his timing is amazing."
Pakistani all-rounder Wasim Akram said on Saturday he is fired up to take the field in Tuesday's key World Cup clash against defending champions Australia.
The 36-year-old, playing his fifth and last World Cup, believes a victory over Ricky Ponting's men at the Wanderers in Johannesburg would propel his side towards the title.
"I have always enjoyed taking on challenges," Akram said.
"Australia have always been a very competitive team and I enjoy playing and performing against them.
"I just can't wait for Tuesday's game and although it would not be a grudge match, we would certainly like to start the tournament on a winning note," he said.
Pakistan, who crashed to a humiliating eight-wicket defeat to Australia in the 1999 World Cup final at Lord's, have been drawn together with the reigning champions in Group A of the preliminary league.
"Memories of that final are still fresh in my memory," Akram said.
"But I am determined to bury them once and forever in this tournament. This will surely be my last World Cup and I am keen to end on a high note."
Steve Waugh was cleared of dissent tonight after standing his ground following a disputed catch in the ING Cup match against Victoria.
A 45-minute hearing, chaired by Victoria's Australian Cricket Board-appointed commissioner Ron Beazley, found Waugh had not breached clause five of the code of behaviour which covers intimidation of umpires and dissent.
It ended a forgettable day for Waugh, who saw his star-studded NSW team receive a six-wicket thrashing from a young Victorian side at the MCG.
He made only four before being caught low down at short midwicket by David Hussey and given out by umpire Tony Soulsby.
Waugh was unsure whether the ball had carried and stood his ground for several seconds after Soulsby had raised his finger.
"Recently we've gone on the player's word," Waugh said of the incident.
"But from where I was it was doubtful and the fieldsman didn't know if it was out or not."
"The fieldsman didn't at any stage say he was 100 per cent sure he'd caught it, so to me that suggested there was some doubt there. There's no point crying about it now, it's over."
Australia will use former team stalwarts Ian Healy and Dean Jones to provide information on rival nations during the World Cup.
Healy and Jones are attending a wide variety of matches during the Cup in their roles as television commentators.
"It's nothing as drastic as spying on other teams and no different to how every other country operates. If respected and knowledgeable figures like Healy and Jones, who has helped coach New Zealand in the past, have any worthwhile tips the Australian camp will welcome them."
"We've got quite a bit of information as it is, but we'll always take advice from individuals we know and trust, people of the likes of Ian Healy or Dean Jones who are at different games," said Australian coach John Buchanan.
"They would be people who I've talked with already. If they see something they believe is worthwhile then we'll put that in the mix."
South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs has insisted he bears no grudges towards former captain Hansie Cronje, even though the late Proteas skipper almost ended the talented batsman's international career by involving him in a bribery scandal.
"Perhaps he tried to do down his own mates," admitted Gibbs in an extract from 'Herschelle - A Biography'.
"Even if he thought like that, for me it was good money anyway," said Gibbs, just hours ahead of hosts South Africa's World Cup curtain-raiser against the West Indies at Cape Town's Newlands ground.
And Gibbs, apparently oblivious to the damage done to his own standing by Cronje's actions, added: "Obviously my reputation went down a bit but I could change that by playing good cricket."
"It was like a six-month holiday for me."
Gibbs, a destructive run-getter widely predicted to be one of the World Cup's leading lights, made clear he still holds Cronje in high regard.
"He was a great person. He had his faults but I had a lot of respect for him."
Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer again expressed disappointment on Sunday at the reluctance of cricket's ruling body to move World Cup matches away from Zimbabwe.
Australia's players have also expressed unease about their February 24 game in Bulawayo but captain Ricky Ponting has said his side is happy to act under instruction from the Australian Cricket Board.
But the ICC has also said it had reviewed Zimbabwe's security plans and felt there was no risk to players.
"It's very disappointing that so far the International Cricket Council has been completely resistant to the idea of moving games from Zimbabwe," Downer said.
"I don't get a sense that the ICC is going to move the games now," Downer added.
"It's still our view that the games should be moved from Zimbabwe. We still regret it very much if those games go ahead."
Nelson Mandela urged South Africa's cricketers to victory in the opening match of the 2003 World Cup on Sunday, saying the country's black majority backed them as ambassadors of a multi-racial "miracle nation".
Sporting a cricket jersey emblazoned with "Madiba" - the clan name by which he is known affectionately to millions of South Africans, the 84-year-old former president told players in a pre-game meeting that all sectors of South African society were rooting for the home side.
"The whole nation is fully behind you and supports you," Mandela said. "You are pioneers in this game and we expect you to open a new chapter in cricket."
"We are still regarded as a miracle nation, and you are our best ambassadors," said Mandela.
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