Rediff.com  » Cricket » Injuries, suspensions plague unpredictable Pakistan's World Cup charge

Injuries, suspensions plague unpredictable Pakistan's World Cup charge

February 06, 2015 16:08 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Mohammad Irfan of Pakistan celebrates with teammates after picking a wicket

Mohammad Irfan of Pakistan celebrates with teammates after picking a wicket. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

Pakistan have sweet memories of the World Cup when Australia and New Zealand last co-hosted it in 1992 but their optimism will be tempered this time by their turbulent build-up to the quadrennial event.

Very few would have tipped Pakistan to win the showpiece event 23 years ago but Imran Khan's young team fought back from imminent elimination in the opening round to defeat England in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The talented but unpredictable side are not favourites this time either and their preparations have been hamstrung by injuries to their fast bowlers and the unavailability of leading spinner Saeed Ajmal due to an illegal bowling action.

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis during a team training session

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis during a team training session. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

"I am happy that we are not favourites," Pakistan coach Waqar Younis told reporters in Lahore. "To be very honest it's big pressure of being favourites.

"We were not favourites last time (in 2011) too but we played excellent cricket.

"Similarly this time, there are teams which play on those bouncy wickets like Australia and South Africa, and are probably bigger favourites than us. But we hope that with the type of resources we have we can do well."

The former fast bowler was referring to Pakistan reaching the semi-finals in 2011 when they lost to eventual champions India.

Shahid Afridi celebrates a wicket with teammates after the dismissal of David Warner

Shahid Afridi celebrates a wicket with teammates after the dismissal of David Warner. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

But that time they had the advantage of playing in familiar conditions of the subcontinent, where their slow bowlers made a big impact.

Part-time off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez is also under the cloud of a suspect action and will need to get cleared before the tournament kicks off on February 14 and his bowling will be crucial for Pakistan in the absence of off-spinner Ajmal.

Flamboyant Shahid Afridi, who was the joint highest wicket-taker in 2011, is expected to lead Pakistan's slow bowlers with his fast leg-spinners.

Pakistan will also be without experienced fast bowler Umar Gul at the World Cup after he failed to recover sufficiently from a knee problem.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq bats. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

In Gul's absence, left-arm paceman Junaid Khan was expected to lead the bowling attack but the 25-year-old also suffered a hamstring injury during a conditioning camp in Lahore and was ruled out of the World Cup.

"Unfortunately injuries hit us at the wrong time and you get a setback," Waqar added.

"We had problems to our fast bowlers for few months and of course the recent episode with Junaid is a setback."

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq himself recovered in the nick of time from a hamstring injury and the Pakistan batting will thrive on him and the experienced Younis Khan for solidity.

Misbah and Afridi have both said they will bid adieu to the 50-over format after the World Cup and Pakistan will hope they can make a lasting impression.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Source: source
© Copyright 2020 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
SHARE THIS STORYCOMMENT

IPL 2020

IPL 2020