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|June 14, 1999||
India lacked a genuine all-rounder: Miandad
Former Pakistan coach Javed Miandad feels that the absence of genuine all-rounder cost India a place in the World Cup semi-finals.
He described the Indian batting as one of the strongest among the teams taking part in the World Cup, and said he had "expected them to be in the last four".
"Lack of an all-rounder, and one bowler less, was India's undoing, and I think they need to start afresh," he added.
On Pakistan's chances, Miandad said, "Shoaib Akhtar is our main weapon and he can play a main role in regaining the World Cup."
He was, however, apprehensive of the batting. "Pakistan's batting has been very inconsistent. It is only Shoaib, with his sheer pace, who has the ability to win matches and he should be given a free hand to go flat out," he added.
"It will serve no purpose to ask Shoaib to cut down his pace or try to adjust his line and length," he said, adding "this is not the time and place to tell him that."
Miandad said even best of the batsmen get unnerved against a genuine pace bowler. "I am speaking from my experience of 124 Tests and over 250 one-dayers," he said.
"I want Shoaib to bowl as fast as he can. I don't think any batsman likes facing him. Even in the limited-overs matches, the batsman is more concerned about staying at the crease then be among the runs to start with. If other bowlers give him good support I think we should win."
He said Pakistan will have has the advantage of playing their semi-final at Edbagston, and the final at Lord's, as both the grounds had firm pitches, which can be exploited by genuine fast bowlers.
Miandad felt that Pakistan's biggest problem has been the constant shuffling in the batting order. "In such competitions, you cannot afford to keep on shuffling the batsmen. I don't understand the reason behind sending Ijaz at number three against India and Zimbabwe, when Abdur Razzaq was batting so well in that position in these English conditions."
He said Pakistan's batting had been struggling throughout the World Cup, and even Saeed, the best player in the side, had only got a big score after seven matches.
"The move to send Shahid Afridi in as a opener was also a wrong one, since he is just not equipped to deal with the pitches here. But now at least they realised he is better off batting at number six or seven."
Miandad advocated that Paksitan stick with the opening pair of Saeed and Wasti, Razaq at number three, and Afridi at number six or seven in the semi-finals and, hopefully, the final.
"The conditions for batting in England are very different compared to those in the sub-continent, where once a batsman sees through five overs, he is confident of a big score. Here, even after getting a 50, you remain uncertain about yourself, because the ball does so much even on flat pitches," he averred.
He felt Pakistan were lucky they had to play Zimbabwe to book a place in the semi-finals. "I don't understand how they lost to Bangladesh. It is totally unexpected. But the effect of that defeat carried over to South Africa and India.You just cannot afford to relax in such a tournament."
He maintained that Pakistan would be better off playing either Zimbabwe or New Zealand in the semi-finals, because Australia could prove to be a tough opponent.
"We only beat them in the qualifying rounds."
Miandad, who watched the New Zealand and India match closely on television, said he would certainly watch the semi-finals and the final as his love affair with the game was not over.
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