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January 24, 2003 15:36 IST
Pakistan captain Waqar Younis and 140 million countrymen eagerly await the March 1 World Cup confrontation with India, nursing hope that the greenshirts emerge victors at the SuperSport Park in Centurion, South Africa.
Although both countries have won the World Cup — India in 1983 and Pakistan in 1992 — Pakistan has never beaten its archrival in three previous attempts, 1992, 1996 and 1999.
The teams did not meet in the first four World Cups and have not played each other in international competition since the 2000 Asia Cup in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Leading members of India's World Cup team are busy shooting television commercials.
Those involved include opening batsman Virender Sehwag, all-rounder Yuvraj Singh and captain Sourav Ganguly.
Hansie Cronjé has certainly not been forgotten by the South African team, many of who will dedicate next month's World Cup to their late skipper.
In interviews with team members at their Drakensberg training camp on Wednesday, Cronjé, the disgraced captain who died in an air crash last year, came up repeatedly in conversations.
Jonty Rhodes was one of those dedicating the tournament to Cronjé. 'For me this World Cup is going to be extra special and there's an extra special person I'd like to dedicate it to,' he said.
Asked if the person he was referring to was Cronjé, Rhodes nodded. Sitting alongside him Allan Donald also nodded in agreement.
The World Cup will take the shirt off your back -- if it bears corporate branding that does not belong to an official sponsor of the event.
Not only do fans risk having T-shirts and caps with non-sponsor corporate branding seized, they could also be thrown out of World Cup venues.
Clifford Green, a lawyer supervising the fight against ambush marketing, said he would 'at the push of a button' get police to eject fans who do not comply with the regulations.
'I will have a legal team at each World Cup match, be it in Nairobi, Harare or Port Elizabeth,' he said.
Green, head of the World Cup's anti-infringement programme, added: 'We have a duty to protect the interests of the World Cup's associated partners and sponsors. If, for example, a fan is wearing a Coca-Cola T-shirt while our official sponsor is Pepsi, then that item could be confiscated.
'I understand somebody might wake up in the morning and put on their favourite T-shirt, which happens to have Coca-Cola all over the front, and they get to the cricket and there's a lot of unhappiness. So people need to be aware of the problems this will cause.'
Green warned that people making a concerted effort to wear unofficial branding -- such as a group of people each wearing a letter to make up the name of a company not associated with the event -- would also be ejected from the event.
Blindfolds in the bush? Helicopter rides? White-water rafting? Survivor-like obstacle courses? Drumming sessions?
The South African team's World Cup preparations in Drakensberg this week have certainly been unconventional.
Then again, who needs convention?
If they feel it's going to help them win the game's elusive Holy Grail, so be it.
Coach Eric Simons did say the Drakensberg camp would be 'foolish but fun.' He also said he hoped the camp, which ended on Friday, would help bring the team together, and in a strange sort of way, it has.
Just how getting lost in the bush will help Gary Kirsten overcome Glenn McGrath's nagging line and length or help Allan Donald tame Sanath Jayasuriya's bat is debatable.
Thing is, it wasn't the purpose of the camp.
Team trainer Andrew Gray was the brain behind the adventure. This week other than the physical aspects, he said the camp's emphasis was mainly on team work and team building. And what better place to do that than in one of the most beautiful parts of the world?
Chris Cairns' prospects of bowling at the World Cup have all but evaporated with the champion New Zealand allrounder struck down by a new injury.
The pulse of New Zealand's one-day unit was on the verge of a return to the bowler's mark for Canterbury after recent knee surgery but his latest setback, a side strain, effectively means he will go to South Africa solely as a batsman.
Because of his lack of overs in the past two months, it was a long shot for the 32 year old to bowl at the Cup but the side strain is the last straw.
Side strains are the bane of fast bowlers because they are notoriously slow to heal. Full recovery could take between four and six weeks.
On that schedule, Cairns would not be fit enough to roll his arm over till New Zealand's fourth pool match against Kenya in Nairobi, but chairman of selectors Richard Hadlee is not holding his breath.
The Zimbabwe Cricket Union are confident of being given the go-ahead to stage six World Cup matches as scheduled.
International Cricket Council Chief Executive Malcolm Speed and Dr Ali Bacher, head of the World Cup Organising Committee, have been visiting Zimbabwe to reassess the security situation.
Speed will report back to the ICC board in London on Friday when a final decision will be taken.
But ZCU chief Vince Hogg said he was happy with the way various meetings had gone.
'We met with four high commissioners -- Pakistan, India, Australia and the United Kingdom -- and the commissioner of police and we're very happy with the plan that was presented,' he said.
The Black Caps will have enough time to adjust to South African conditions before the World Cup, but their top order has to fire, Auckland coach Mark O'Donnell said on Wednesday.
National coach Denis Aberhart met O'Donnell during Auckland's State Shield match against Wellington on Friday to pick his brains about what to expect in South Africa.
New Zealand-born O'Donnell had coaching assignments at Eastern Province, Griqualand West and Gauteng before taking up the Auckland job at the beginning of the season.
He said he passed on advice about game plan, the Black Caps' practice and playing venues, and what scores were usually made at the various grounds.
The Blacks Caps fly out on January 27. Their first World Cup fixture is against Sri Lanka on February 10. 'They will adjust, because they will have a couple of weeks over there practicing,' O'Donnell said.
Veteran South African fast bowler Allan Donald said he has not yet decided to make himself available for the three-month tour of England this winter.
Donald, who played his final Test against Australia at the Wanderers last February, was set to quit limited-overs cricket after the World Cup in March.
However, Mornantau Hayward's decision to play county cricket prompted speculation that Donald would change his mind about his retirement.
'I've spoken to (selection chief) Omar Henry, but I'm not ready to make a decision until after the World Cup,' Donald said at the South African team camp in Drakensberg.
Australia's Glenn McGrath has been ruled out of the second tri-nations series final against England in Melbourne on Saturday.
McGrath, 33 next month, is struggling to overcome a lower back strain – a problem causing mounting concern in the Australian camp 19 days before the side's opening World Cup clash in South Africa.
Australian physiotherapist Errol Alcott said McGrath will not travel to Melbourne with the rest of the side.
When Shane Warne rode roughshod over batsmen throughout the 1990s, Brad Hogg was riding a scooter, scratching out a living as a postman.
All the while Hogg had a dream that one day they would play together. For many years it seemed fantasy as Hogg toiled away all but anonymously for Western Australia, snatching a Test six years ago when Warne was out injured, then disappearing off the international radar.
Finally, the big moment arrived on Thursday.
Australia dabbled on the off-beat by playing two wrist spinners in the same side at the SCG, showcasing the present and the future of Australia's one-day side against England.
On February 10 Dr Rudi van Vuuren will become the first man to take part in both the cricket and rugby World Cups when he operates the new ball for Namibia against Zimbabwe in Harare.
He celebrated his date with destiny almost two years ago in Toronto in the ICC Trophy final. Namibia lost the final off the last ball, but secured their berth in the 2003 World Cup with an amazing run of 10 straight victories in the ICC Trophy.
Scotland could yet have a presence at the World Cup if Zimbabwe withdrew from the tournament.
Scottish officials accept it would take an unlikely chain of events to see them called up, but insist the players are prepared to drop everything if required.
Scotland are currently ranked 17th in the world after narrowly failing to qualify automatically for the World Cup via the ICC Trophy in Sri Lanka.
As a result of Zimbabwe's ongoing political problems, there remains a possibility that the ICC will move the six matches scheduled to take place in the country to South Africa.
If that happens, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe could pull his country out of the competition.
India women travel to New Zealand for the quadrangular one-day tournament hoping to restore some national pride.
Their male counterparts were humbled on a recent tour of the country, losing 2-0 in the Tests and succumbing in the one-day series.
Low-scoring affairs highlighted the visit, with the state of the pitches coming in for criticism from the tourists.
But India, who take on England, Australia and the hosts in the two-week tournament starting January 26, aim to let their cricket do the talking.
'We hope to make up for our men's losses,' said captain Anjum Chopra.
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