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Akram on verge of 500
Faisal Shariff in Cape Town |
February 21, 2003 23:06 IST
Andy Flintoff wants to be Wasim Akram's 500th one-day victim on Saturday. Well, sort of.
"I don't mind the honour if I am on 135 when I am dismissed," the England all-rounder quipped as Akram, with 498 wickets in his bag, prepares to become the first bowler in the shorter version of the game to touch the 500 mark.
Flintoff is no pushover, and the Pakistanis haven't forgotten his 60-ball knock of 84 in Karachi two years ago. But
the expectations are high as a great bowler approaches a landmarks in ODI cricket.
Only West Indian Courtney Walsh has tasted the thrill of 500 against his name, but in Test cricket.
The possibility of Akram achieving the landmark is only a sideshow -- although a big sideshow -- when England and Pakistan joust at the Newlands in a key Pool A match on Saturday.
With both sides struggling with their batting, Pakistan skipper Waqar Younis said he believed whichever side bowled well would win the match. Besides Akram and Younis, Pakistan has the superfast Shoaib Akhtar in its ranks. A flat wicket with a few cracks on it, the game could well be decided by the toss. With both sides laying emphasis on the
toss, it is certain both sides will look to boost their batting line-up.
"My team is bowling well," Waqar said. "I expect Inzamam and Yousuf Youhana to get some runs tomorrow. We need to put things right in the middle of the innings when we bowl. I reckon Saqlain Mushtaq will be very important for us."
Only one player in the current Pakistani team has a World Cup hundred: Saeed Anwar got two centuries in the 1999 tournament in England.
Waqar has played under Duncan Fletcher for Glamorgan, and he knows the England coach reads the opposition's weaknesses well.
The Pakistani skipper admitted his team usually relaxed after a good win, and that was the reason for their inconsistent
"It will be a different ball game tomorrow. I have no doubt we will play our best cricket. The English team is a very competitive side and we have to be careful about Marcus Trescothick and Andy Flintoff," he said.
Pakistan's South Africa-born coach Richard Pybus summed up his wards best when he said the team was full of talented individuals and that the real challenge for him was to bring them together.
Consistency is the key to Pakistan winning the World Cup, he said.
Playing his fourth World Cup, Inzamam will be aware of the fact that he has yet to get a hundred in the tournament.
"He is hardly batting at the moment," Pakistan media manager Samiul Hasan said. "He has just been standing around. The idea is to make him hungry for runs."