ICL issues show-cause notice to Yousuf

Sunday, September 30, 2007

KARACHI: Mohammad Yousuf has been issued a show-cause letter by the organisers of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) after the star batsman announced earlier this week that he will cancel his contract with the rebel league to make himself available for Pakistan duty.

It has been learnt that the ICL officials have sent a letter to Yousuf asking him to immediately explain why he has announced cancelling a contract with the league. Yousuf, 33, joined the breakaway ICL earlier this summer after signing a lucrative deal following Pakistan’s decision to drop him from their squad for the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa.

The batting maestro, who was recently named Test player of the year by the International Cricket Council (ICC), was the biggest star roped in by the ICL. However, PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf decided to pursue Yousuf and finally convinced him to sign a central contract with the Board following a meeting in Lahore earlier week.

Yousuf’s decision to finally sign the central contract earned him a signing bonus worth US$100,000 and he is also likely to receive a few other cash rewards. But he is now also facing a legal battle against the ICL organisers who claim that Yousuf will still play in their league.

Sources, however, said that Yousuf has been assured by top Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials that he would get the services of top class lawyers if the ICL organisers opted to begin legal proceedings against him.


Misbah recalled but no place for Shoaib for the First Test

Friday, September 28, 2007

Misbah-ul-Haq's impressive performances in the World Twenty20 have earned him a recall to Pakistan's squad for the first Test against South Africa in Karachi on Monday. But there was no place in the 15-man lineup for either Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former captain, or Shoaib Akhtar.

Misbah was the third-highest run-scorer in South Africa, helping Pakistan reach the final and was also the highest run-scorer in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan's premier first-class tournament. He played the last of his five Tests four years ago against Bangladesh. Joining him in the middle order is Mohammad Yousuf, who yesterday agreed to represent Pakistan, after having initially signed up for the Indian Cricket League (ICL).

But there was no place in the squad for Inzamam, another ICL signatory. Inzamam has retired from ODIs, though insists he wants to play Test cricket. Salahuddin Ahmed, Pakistan's chief selector, said that Inzamam had been considered for the squad but had declared himself unavailable for the first Test.

"I spoke to Inzamam and though he didn't specify the reasons, he said he was unavailable for the first Test,"

said Salahuddin.

"If he is available for the second Test [in Lahore], he will be considered."

Shoaib's exclusion was also expected, as he is currently the subject of a disciplinary inquiry into his altercation with Mohammad Asif in South Africa.

"Shoaib's is a policy decision,"

said Salahuddin.

"The disciplinary inquiry is ongoing and only when their decision has come will we take a decision."

Rao Iftikhar Anjum took the third fast bowler's spot, edging out Sohail Tanvir, the left-arm, wrong-foot bowler who did so well in the Twenty20 World Cup.

"Sohail is a very talented all-rounder but we feel he still has some time before he is ready for the longer version of the game,"

added Salahuddin.

Pakistan will field yet another new opening pair when the first Test begins from October 1. One of Taufeeq Umar, who averages 74 in four Tests against South Africa, or Mohammad Hafeez will partner Salman Butt, the vice-captain.

Pakistan squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal (wk), Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Danish Kaneria, Faisal Iqbal, Yasir Hameed, Taufeeq Umar, Abdur Rehman


Muhammad Yousuf announces to play for Pakistan

Thursday, September 27, 2007

LAHORE: The recently awarded the ‘Test player of the year’ by the International Cricket Council, Muhammad Yousuf , surrendering from the Indian Cricket League (ICL)has decided to render more services for Pakistan in the field of cricket.

Mohammad Yousuf has agreed to cancel his contract with the ICL and opted instead to represent Pakistan after talks with Dr Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Muhammad Yousuf called on the chairman PCB at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore and talked with him for an hour after which both addressed a five-minute news conference in which the media was not allowed to ask any question.

Dr Nasim Ashraf said:
"I had a fruitful meeting with Yousuf today and he has signed a central contract with the PCB after agreeing not to play in the ICL,"
Ashraf said.
"He is now available to represent Pakistan. He is the backbone of Pakistan's batting and we are happy that he is back."

Muhammad Yousuf said that he is happy to play for Pakistan again. He was assured regarding his future and he has therefore decided to cancel his contract with the ICL.

"Whatever I have achieved is because of my country and I am willing to do anything for Pakistan,"
Yousuf said.
"I didn't know this clause in the ICL contract that priority had to be given to the league instead of Pakistan when international matches are happening simultaneously."

Dr Nasim Ashraf said that Muhammad Yousuf is continuing his physical training. He will begin the training from Friday in Lahore and join the national team on Saturday in Karachi.

Yousuf, together with Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imran Farhat and Abdul Razzaq, signed on with the league over a month ago. Though it wasn't said at the time, the decision was thought to be a result of his axing from Pakistan's squad for the ICC World Twenty20. Razzaq, who was also axed, announced his retirement from international cricket, a decision he has yet to take back.

Though no similar moves have been made for the other three, the development represents a considerable coup for the Pakistan board, who have made no secret of their desire to lure Yousuf back. With the first Test against South Africa to begin on Monday, it means he is at least available to shore up a thin-looking middle order, which already has to fill the considerable gap left by Inzamam.


South African cricket team arrives in Karachi

KARACHI: South Africa’s cricket team has arrived in Karachi on Wednesday for playing a series of two Test matches and five One-day Internationals against Pakistan.

Tight security measures were taken at the international airport of Karachi on the arrival of the visiting team.

Dozens of police officers including elite commandos were deployed at the airport. They surrounded the team as they left the Jinnah terminal building.

The 27-member South African contingent, consisted of 14 players and 13 officials, arrived at Karachi by a foreign flight. The officials of the Karachi City Cricket Association received the visitors and garlanded them.

Captain Graeme Smith, Jaccus Kallis and Makhaya Nitni were the centre of attraction at the airport. None of the players of South Africa was allowed to talk with media.

The team was taken to hotel from the airport amid tight security. A large number of police mobiles escorted the team.

Security measures were tight at the hotel also. The media men were kept away from the visiting players there.


Large re-play screen being installed at National Stadium Karachi

KARACHI: A large screen, 75 meter long and 44 meter wide and is being installed at a cost of Rs 7 million, at the National Cricket Stadium, Karachi.

Development work in the National Stadium is in progress in preparation for the first Test match to be played against South Africa from October 1.

Dressing room is being carpeted and the main building of the stadium is being whitewashed while work on the floodlights of the stadium is also in progress.

The re-play screen of international standard is being installed. The 75 meter long and 44 meter wide large screen will cost Rs 7 million.

This is for the first time that South Africa will play a Test match in Karachi.

Director Administration of the National Stadium Karachi, Nadeem Akram said that the spectators coming to the national Stadium would be provided better facilities.


Yousuf may quit ICL, be back for Tests

KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier batsman Mohammad Yousuf is expected to announce his decision to quit the Indian Cricket League (ICL) after a meeting with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf in Lahore tomorrow.

Sources told ‘The News’ that Yousuf has “almost made up his mind” to cancel his contract with the rebel ICL but much will depend on how his meeting goes with the PCB chief.

The meeting was earlier scheduled to be held today (Wednesday) but has to be rescheduled as Ashraf is currently in Johannesburg where he went to the watch the World Twenty20 final between Pakistan and India. He is scheduled to return home today.

Yousuf caused a storm earlier this summer when he joined the ICL after being snubbed by Pakistan while selecting their World Twenty20 squad. Three other Pakistani cricketers — former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, all-rounder Abdul Razzaq and opener Imran Farhat — also joined the ICL.

However, the PCB, which had earlier announced that players joining the ICL will be banned, decided just to pursue Yousuf because he is the backbone of Pakistan’s batting line-up, especially in Tests.

Sources said that the PCB chief will offer him a substantial amount as compensation if Yousuf agrees to cancel his lucrative contract with the ICL.

But even if Yousuf decides to quit ICL, it seems unlikely that he will be able to feature in the opening Test against South Africa starting in Karachi from October 21.

Yousuf just recently came back from a tableeghi visit and has not played any cricket since early August. However, the batsman says that he has been keeping himself fit by running regularly.


I’ll bring Yousuf back from ICL : Nasim Ashraf

KARACHI: Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Dr Nasim Ashraf said that he would get success in bringing Muhammad Yousuf back from ICL to Pakistan cricket.

Talking with media on returning from South Africa, Chairman PCB Dr Nasim Ashraf said that the doors of PCB are open for all the Indian Cricket League playing cricketers.

He expressed hope that he would convince Muhammad Yousuf to leave the ICL and play for Pakistan but Yousuf has to play his role for the Pakistan team.


‘Salman will bounce back in Tests’

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

KARACHI: Pakistan’s chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu on Tuesday defended the national team’s vice-captain Salman Butt in spite of the player’s unimpressive performance in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 tournament in South Africa saying that he will regain his form in the forthcoming Test matches.

Salahuddin, a former Test cricketer, said that Salman is a good batsman and suffered a bad patch during the tournament where Pakistan lost in the final against India on Monday.

After a series of poor outings, Salman was dropped from the playing line-up in the semifinal and the final of the 12-nation tournament. He was replaced by rookie all-rounder Fawad Alam in the semifinal and later Yasir Arafat was selected ahead of Salman in the final.

Salahuddin Sallu defended the decision to include Salman in the Twenty20 squad saying that the Lahore-based batsmen batted superbly in a series of Twenty20 matches at home this summer.
“Salman was one of the most prolific batsmen in those practice games and in fact he was the only one who scored a century in one of the matches,”
said Sallu.

He said that Salman would regain his form in the forthcoming Test series against South Africa starting with the opening Test here at the National Stadium from October 1.
“Salman is a very talented young batsman and I’m sure that he would get some runs and regain his confidence in the Test series against South Africa,”
he said.

Sallu praised Pakistan’s performance in the ICC World Twenty20 and said that in spite of losing in the final, the national team did a great job in South Africa.
“Our team played really well and it was a bit unlucky that it didn’t win the world title,”
he said.

Sallu praised the performance of Misbah-ul-Haq, the middle order batsman who almost helped Pakistan win the final against India.
“There was a lot of criticism against the selection of Misbah but the batsman has proved that he was the right choice,”
he said.

The chief selector also hailed the performance of newcomers Sohail Tanvir and Fawad Alam in the tournament.

“Sohail and Fawad have showed us that if given a chance our young cricketers have the guts to do well even against the world’s top teams,”
he said.


‘We are a better T20 side than India’

JOHANNESBURG: Geoff Lawson who remained busy chalking up team’s strategy during Pakistan team’s Twenty World Cup campaign here admitted at the end of the event that there was a very thin line between pain and joy and sadly his team finished on the wrong end on Monday.

Talking to Pakistani media following his team’s narrow loss against India in the World Twenty20 final, he said the match could have finished either way.
“There is a thin line between pain and ecstasy and on Monday Pakistan could have ended up on either side,”
he said.

Lawson said all was going well till one bad shot cost Pakistan the trophy.
“Though Misbah-ul-Haq played brilliantly throughout the tournament, one more of his brilliant drives could have earned Pakistan the trophy.”

Lawson said he still believed Pakistan is a better twenty20 side than India.
“We ended up losing the match with a difference of just one stroke.”

Lawson, however, saw some positives in Pakistan’s performnace.
“There are three things that we have achieved from the tournament despite the loss in the final. Misbah is the find of the tournament. It is rare to see a clean hitter like Misbah in the game. He has batted brilliantly and I think we have got a good player to be a part of the team’s middle-order.”

He also termed Sohail Tanvir as the find of the tournament.
“He is the surprise of the tournament. The way he played in his first ever tournament gives the impression that there is a lot of potential in him to become an international star.”

Lawson said watching Sohail hit two sixes was indeed breathtaking.
“If he can hit the ball with such a force and without any prior warm up I think he could get a lot better in days to come as he is just 23 years old,”
he said.

He also praised Umar Gul’s bowling and said he has emerged as the main strike bowler for Pakistan.
“Gul is genuinely quick and is our main strike bowler.”

Lawson also praised Shoaib Malik captaincy.
“Malik has handled the team very well on the field and the way he took the pressure was a creditable thing.”


India clinches ICC T20 WC trophy by upsetting Pakistan

Monday, September 24, 2007

JOHANNESBURG: Keeping the legacy “India have never lost to Pakistan in the World Cup” alive, India clinched ICC Twenty20 world Cup trophy by upsetting Pakistan in the final at the Wanderers on Monday.

Misbah-ul-Haq of Pakistan managed to steer Pakistan from worst defeat but he too could not help Pakistan to win the ICC Twenty20 world Cup final.

Pakistani bowlers and fielders had restricted India to 157 runs but the batting line of Pakistan utterly failed in the final.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's young Team India snatched the inaugural Twenty20 world title after defeating arch-rivals Pakistan by five runs in a rousing final.

The Indians, restricted to 157-5 after electing to take first strike in good batting conditions, fought back to bowl out valiant Pakistan for 152 before a sell-out crowd of 32,000 at the Wanderers here.

Pakistan appeared out for the count when they were reduced to 104-7 after 16 overs, but Misbah-ul Haq gave the Indians a scare with a late charge of 43 off 38 balls.

Misbah and his tail-end partners took 19 runs in the 18th over bowled by Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and seven runs in the 19th from Rudra Pratap Singh, leaving 13 to get off the final over.

Seamer Joginder Sharma bowled a wide off the first ball and was hammered for a six by Misbah with the second legitimate ball, but gave India victory with his next delivery as the batsman holed out to fine-leg.

Rudra Pratap and Irfan Pathan claimed three wickets each as Pakistan's jinx of never having beaten India in a World Cup or world championship match continued.

Top Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan was at hand to witness India take home the winner's purse of 490,000 dollars while Pakistan received no prize money for their efforts in the final.

It was a remarkable performance by the Indians who had played just one Twenty20 international before the tournament began.

India's innings was restricted by seamer Umar Gul who scalped three prize wickets of Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni and top-scorer Gautam Gambhir.

Gambhir slammed 75 off 54 balls, studded with eight boundaries and two sixes, but none of the other batsmen settled in to play a long innings.

The best partnership in the innings was between Gambhir and Yuvraj, who put on 63 for the third wicket.

India's total was boosted by Rohit Sharma and Irfan Pathan who plundered 27 runs in the final two overs. Sharma remained unbeaten on a 16-ball 30.

Pakistan's chase of the victory target of eight runs an over was launched by Imran Nazir who smashed 33 off 14 balls, taking 21 runs in the second over sent down by Sreesanth.

But Pakistan lost three wickets by the sixth over as left-armer Rudra Pratap dismissed Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal in his first two overs and Nazir was run out by a direct throw from Robin Uthappa.

Pakistan took the total to 65-3 in the ninth over when three further wickets fell for 12 runs, two in one over from Irfan Pathan.

Batting mainstay Younis Khan made 24 when he gave a catch to mid-on off Joginder Sharma and Irfan removed captain Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi in the 12th over.

Malik on-drove Pathan to Rohit Sharma at mid-wicket and Afridi, expected to provide the late fireworks, was caught in the deep off the first ball he faced.

India went into the match without aggressive opener Virender Sehwaq who was ruled out of the key match with a thigh strain sustained during Saturday's semi-final against Australia in Durban.

Yousuf Pathan, elder brother of all-rounder Irfan Pathan who replaced Sehwag, made a dramatic start to his international career after being sent in to open the batting.

Pathan survived a run-out scare off the first ball of the match and smashed the fourth ball from Mohammad Asif over long-on for six.

Man of the Match: Irfan Pathan

Man of the Tournament: Shahid Khan Afridi


Pakistan, India to clash in Twenty20 final

Sunday, September 23, 2007

DURBAN: Pakistan beat New Zealand by six wickets, while India stunned favourites Australia by 15 runs here on Saturday to set up a mouth-watering all-Asian final in the Twenty20 world championships.

Yuvraj Singh smashed 70 off 30 balls as India, electing to take first strike at the jam-packed Kingsmead, made a challenging 188-5 and then restricted Australia to 173-7 in a rousing semi-final.

Australia, needing 27 off the last 12 balls, were kept down to five runs in the 19th over bowled by left-arm seamer Rudra Pratap Singh and six runs in Joginder Sharma’s last over.

Sharma, who was hammered for 31 runs in his first two overs, was gambled for the final over by Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and came good with two wickets at the end.

Opener Matthew Hayden hit 62 off 47 balls and Andrew Symonds scored a 26-ball 43 during a rollicking third wicket stand of 66 that came off just 37 deliveries.

Australia, coasting at 134-2 by the 15th over, lost five wickets for 39 runs to hand India a famous win before some 19,000 delirious South African fans waving the Indian flag.

Seamer Shanthakumaran Sreesanth shone with the ball taking 2-12 off his four overs. Irfan Pathan and Sharma also claimed two wickets each.

The final at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Monday will be the first major title clash between India and Pakistan since the limited-overs world championship of cricket in Melbourne in 1985.

Dhoni chipped in with 36 off 18 balls as India plundered 128 runs in the final 10 overs after a slow start. Yuvraj and Robin Uthappa (34) hammered 84 for the third wicket off just 40 deliveries after India had plodded to 41-2 by the eighth over.

Yuvraj walked in after openers Virender Sehwag (nine) and Gautam Gambhir (24) had fallen against the tight Australian seam bowling. Yuvraj took charge immediately, slamming the first delivery he faced from Stuart Clark for six over square-leg.

Symonds’ first over, the 11th of the innings, produced 19 runs as Yuvraj helped himself to a six and four and Uthappa pulled a short ball for six. Yuvraj brought up his half-century off 20 balls by lofting Clark for his fourth six and Uthappa celebrated his partner’s feat by smashing two consecutive sixes off Mitchell Johnson.

In the first semifinal a blistering innings from Imran Nazir helped Pakistan book their place in the World Twenty20 final after a six-wicket victory over New Zealand at Newlands.

The opener smashed 59 from 41 balls, ably assisted by partner Mohammad Hafeez (32), chasing a target of 144.

A middle order collapse had cost New Zealand vital runs after a promising start, Ross Taylor top-scoring with 37. Umar Gul (3-15) was the pick of the bowlers, with good support from debutant Fawad Alam (2-24) and Shahid Afridi (1-24).

Captain Shoaib Malik fittingly hit the winning runs with seven balls remaining, sparking celebrations among the players and new coach Geoff Lawson.


Pakistan eyes winning T20 WC championship by defeating New Zealand

Saturday, September 22, 2007

CAPE TOWN: Pakistan eyes to make milestone by winning ICC Twnety20 World Cup after cruising into historic victory over New Zealand in the semi-final here at Newlands on Saturday

Pakistan defeated New Zealand by six wickets as it easily chased the target of 144 runs set by New Zealand in 18.5 ours with loss of four wickets.

Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Nazir and Umar Gul by taking three wickets helped Pakistan beat New Zealand by six wickets with seven balls to spare.

Gul was not introduced until the 12th over at Newlands but quickly removed Scott Styris (18), Peter Fulton (10) and Jacob Oram (1) to restrict New Zealand to a modest 143 for eight after electing to bat first.

Pakistan were never behind the asking rate and remained in control throughout the run chase. Captain Shoaib Malik (26 not out) finished the contest in style by hammering off-spinner Jeetan Patel over mid-wicket for six.

Earlier, Ross Taylor top-scored for New Zealand with an unbeaten 37 from 23 balls. He smashed paceman Mohammed Asif for 17 in the final over.

Openers Brendan McCullum (26) and Lou Vincent (28) shared a 50-run opening stand before wickets started to fall on a regular basis.

Pakistan will meet India in Monday’s final.


Inzamam served summons in Oval law suit

Inzamam-ul-Haq, former Pakistan captain, has been served witness summons by a London tribunal following umpire Darrel Hair's suing of the ICC and the Pakistan board for racial discrimination in the aftermath of the Oval controversy.

Interestingly, if Inzamam had remained in Pakistan rather than play county cricket - he is playing for Yorkshire - the tribunal would not have had the power to call him.

"The summons will compel his [Inzamam's] attendance for cross-examination at the Central Office of London Tribunals next month,"

according to a report published in the Times. Hair, who remains on the ICC's Elite panel, was banned from officiating international matches in the aftermath of the Oval saga. It was then that Hair had decided to sue ICC on charges of racial discrimination.

Pakistan team was charged with ball tampering by Hair in the fourth Test against England at The Oval last year. Inzamam, who was the captain of the side, refused to take the field in protest following which the match was awarded to England.

"Hair's lawyer Finers Stephens Innocent wrote to Inzamam requesting his attendance, but did not receive a reply. The summon was served in the presence of Stewart Regan, the chief executive of Yorkshire, for whom Inzamam is playing,"

the report said.

"He now has to decide whether to fly back to Pakistan and return to England before the hearing commences on October 1, or stay in London,"

it said.

Hair will be represented by Robert Griffiths, Queen's Counsel and MCC cricket and general committee member, and he is likely to call upon fellow umpire Billy Doctrove with whom he stood at The Oval. Also expected to appear on Hair's behalf are John Jameson, former assistant secretary of MCC, and Jimmy Adams, the former West Indies captain.

"I am looking forward to having the case heard, and to exercise my rights under the laws of the UK," Hair said. "I am not looking too far ahead and will take stock and make decisions after the hearing is completed."

The hearing is expected to last two weeks.


Taufeeq Umar to lead Patron's XI

Taufeeq Umar, former Pakistan opener, has been appointed captain of the Patron's XI side that is scheduled to take on South Africa in its first warm-up match of their tour to Pakistan. Umar, who has represented Pakistan in 25 Tests and 19 ODIs, has not been able to feature for Pakistan on a regular basis even with a Test average of nearly 40.

The match will also provide selectors to test out a few youngsters viewing the hectic international schedule that lies ahead of Pakistan.

"Umar will lead the Patron's XI, and we have tried to accommodate some youngsters who have done well recently,"

Salahuddin Ahmed, the chief selector, said.

Asim Kamal, another batsman who has been sidelined even though he has performed well not only on the domestic circuit but also while on international duty, earned a recall to international reckoning by being named in the eleven. Fawad Alam and Yasir Arafat, both allrounders who are representing Pakistan in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20, were also named as well as the young bowling duo of Anwar Ali and Uzair-ul-Haq.

South Africa arrive in Karachi on September 26 for their three Test and five ODIs series to be played in October. The first Test will take place in Karachi from October 1.

Patron's XI squad: Taufeeq Umar (capt), Asim Kamal, Fawad Alam, Khurram Manzoor, Yasir Arafat, Babar Naeem, Shahid Yousuf, Rizwan Ahmed, Adnan Raza, Sarfraz Ahmed, Junaid Zia, Anwar Ali, Ahmed Shahzad, Umar Ameen, Uzair-ul Haq


Razzaq says firm on decision to play ICL

LAHORE: Pakistan cricketer Abdul Razzaq has joined Worcestershire for one year. Razzaq said that he is firm on his decision to play Indian Cricket League (ICL).

Talking to Geo News correspondent Imran Sohail on returning home from England, Abdul Razzaq said the County cricket has helped him to improve his fitness and rhythm.

Razzaq said his performance was appreciated in England as Worcestershire County won pro40 title after 13 years and due to his performance, the County had offered him to play the next season, which he has accepted.

For ICL, Razzaq said that he is sticking to his decision of retirement from international cricket and to play the ICL. Pakistan Cricket Board has not made direct contact with him and if contacted, he would than comment about it, he added.


Asif doubtful for semi-final

Pakistan were dealt a blow ahead of their semi-final against New Zealand with Mohammad Asif in doubt for the match with an elbow injury.

Nasim Ashraf, the chairman of the Pakistan board, said Asif had sustained the injury during the net practice before the game against Australia and has been in pain since then.

"That is why he has looked out of sorts and struggled with his line and length,"
Ashraf told PTI.

"He has played because of the importance of the game against Australia but I think the team management should have given him rest for the match against Bangladesh."

Asif has taken nine wickets at 17 from five matches in the tournament so far. Ashraf said he had played after taking injections but he was still not 100% fit.

"The manner in which Asif bowled against Bangladesh, he does not bowl like this even in the nets,"

he said.

Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan captain, admitted that Asif was crucial to the team's chances in the event.


Salman Butt may sit out today

CAPE TOWN: Vice-captain and opener Salman Butt currently under a bad patch is likely to miss today’s semifinal of the World Twenty20 Cricket against New Zealand and will be replaced by Yasir Arafat.

The left-handed batsman from Lahore has so far mustered just 74 runs from five matches of the tournament, two each at Durban and Johannesburg and one at Cape Town.

“There is a strong chance that Yasir will play in place of Salman,”
team sources said on Friday.

He started the tournament by making 13 against Scotland and 17 against India in the preliminary round matches and in Super Eights matches he scored 12 against Sri Lanka and 11 against Australia.

Yasir had played two matches of the preliminary round scoring 17 against Scotland and 12 against India and was dropped in all the three matches of the Super Eights.

The team sources said the team management now wants to give a chance to Yasir but making a change in a winning combination at this crucial stage does not sound wise.


Pakistan v New Zealand: Panache meets purpose

CAPE TOWN: This is a clash of Pakistan flair verses Kiwi functionality. Although New Zealand have again more than held their own, they owe their passage to the semi-finals on India, after their 37-run win against South Africa dumped the home side out on net run-rate and allowed Daniel Vettori’s side to sneak in.

“I didn’t actually watch any of it,”
said Vettori.
“I was trying to avoid it as much as possible because we knew what it was going to be like. In the end it was a little bit tense and there was relief from the guys.”

Pakistan have reached the last four playing their typically blend of aggressive cricket, despite a stuttering display against Bangladesh, under the guidance of their new coach Geoff Lawson. Some of the permutations for the final are mouth-watering; a Trans-Tasman clash, a replay of the 1999 World Cup final or, the ultimate match-up, an India-Pakistan showdown.

Bat play: Pakistan’s top order has failed to fire in the tournament; their first four matches brought scores of 50 for 3, 47 for 4, 33 for 3 and 46 for 4 before the middle order led recoveries. Their best start came against Bangladesh went Shahid Afridi was finally promoted to open, but Shoaib Malik was keeping his cards close to his chest over Pakistan’s plans. Salman Butt has laboured in every innings and his strike-rate is down at a paltry 70.

New Zealand haven’t been blessed with a mountain of runs from the top four and their best start - 68 without loss - ended in defeat against South Africa. Craig McMillan has been their saviour with 44 off 23 against India and 57 off 31 against England. Scott Styris (52 runs) and Lou Vincent (89 runs) have both struggled and their scoring rates have only crept above a run-a-ball.

Wrecking ball: The leading wicket-takers for both teams are spinners, Vettori and Afridi. Vettori is pushing to be bowler of the tournament after conceding a miserly 5.30 and should be a handful on a worn Newlands surface. However, he wasn’t making any early decisions on his team.
“We saw Australia run through Sri Lanka with pace.”
Jacob Oram hasn’t enjoyed Twenty20 with the ball, taking one wicket and going at nearly 11-an-over. Pakistan’s attack is packed with variety. Afridi has bagged the wickets, but Sohail Tanvir has come from nowhere to create problems with the new-ball alongside Mohammad Asif. Umar Gul’s yorkers, held back until the closing overs, have meant that opposition have struggled to accelerate late in their innings.

Keep your eye on: The brewery. If Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq (holder of the longest six in the tournament) or Oram get hold of a ball deep midwicket will need to be standing on the other side of the railway line.

Shop talk: Although chasing has been the preferred route, Malik doesn’t think it’s the only way to go.
“If you have a strong bowling line-up up can bat first and put pressure on the other side,”
he said.

Vettori believes it would have been harsh for New Zealand to miss out on the semi-finals.
“Sometimes we have scraped through, but this time I think we deserved it but luckily enough for us it worked out well. We make a lot of them [semi-finals] now it’s about kicking on.”

Pitching it right:
“It looks good,”
said Malik after inspecting the surface.
“But the outfield is heavy so 165-170 should be a good total.”
The sunshine of recent days is also expected to be replaced by a touch more cloud cover, offering more assistance for the bowlers.


Shoaib Akhter unlikely for South Africa Tests - Ashraf

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, has said that Shoaib Akhtar is unlikely to be selected for the Tests against South Africa owing to the disciplinary hearing scheduled for next week. Shoaib was sent home from the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa following a dressing-room incident involving Mohammad Asif and before the tournament began.

"We will not interfere in the working of the disciplinary committee or the selectors,"

Ashraf told a press conference in Karachi.

"This is a serious issue and will be investigated fully."

Ashraf said the three-member committee will question the other team members and also investigate how news of the incident was leaked to the media. The PCB had earlier gagged its players on speaking out on the issue and instructed them to concentrate on the tournament.

Ashraf was also hopeful of Mohammad Yousuf's return to the Test side, despite him having joined the ICL. Yousuf and three others - Imran Farhat, Abdul Razzaq and Inzamam-ul-Haq - signed up for the ICL after they were omitted from the ICC World Twenty20 and the board was particularly keen on bringing Yousuf back in the fold. He won the Test Player of the Year award in the ICC Awards in Johannesburg.

"He is a gentleman and I am confident we can convince him to withdraw from the contract and play for Pakistan,"

said Ashraf.

"The selectors should prepare for the Tests with him in mind."

The first Test begins in Karachi on October 1.


Skipper wants T20 crown

CAPE TOWN: Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik said his team were looking beyond tomorrow’s semifinals after they laboured to a four-wicket win over Bangladesh in their final World Twenty20 Super Eights match here at the Newlands on Thursday.

“We had hiccups today,”
Malik admitted.
“We are much focused to improve on this performance,”
he added.

Pakistan’s win ensured they finished top of Group F in the Super Eights stage with three wins in three matches. They earned a semi-final at Newlands against the second team from Group E, one of South Africa, New Zealand or India, depending on the final Super Eights match between South Africa and India later Thursday.

Malik said he wasn’t concerned about who Pakistan play on Saturday.
“We have our sights set higher than the semifinals,” he said. “We are looking at winning the trophy,”
he added.

Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful said a dropped catch in the deep two balls after Nazir returned could have made the difference between winning and losing.

Zunaed Siddique, 19, a tall left-hander, marked his international debut with a sparkling innings which included six fours and three sixes.

He said he was told to play his natural game.
“I went out to play as I do in domestic cricket and not worry about the opposition,”
he said.

ICC World Twenty20

On Saturday (September 22), first semifinal at Cape Town, starts 4.00pm PST. Second semifinal at Durban, starts 9.00pm PST

Final at Johannesburg on Monday (September 24), starts 5.00pm PST


Notification of PCB’s constitution issued

ISLAMABAD: The ministry of sports has issued the notification of the constitution of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) here today.

Federal secretary for sports Ismail Niazi told News that the PCB had sent the script of the constitution to the ministry of law which after reviewing sent it to the ministry of sports. The ministry of sports issued the notification on Friday.

After the notification of the PCB’s constitution is issued, a 15-member governing body will be formed, headed by chairman PCB, Dr. Nasim Ashraf.

The governing body will include five representatives from regions and one from department, two former Test cricketers and six technocrats.

In this regard, chairman PCB Dr Nasim Ashraf will give details to media in few days.


ICC Twenty20 World Cup: Pakistan beat BD by four wickets in T20 Super Eights

Thursday, September 20, 2007

CAPE TOWN: Pakistan in their last match in the Super Eights stage of ICC Twenty20 World Cup defeated Bangladesh by four wickets here at Newlands on Thursday.

Pakistan chased the target of 141 set by Bangladesh in nineteen ours with top score of 39 runs of Shahid Afridid and Muhammad Hanid stood second top by scoring 23 runs.

Pakistan has already qualified for the semi-finals in the Twenty20 World Cup tournament. Earlier, Pakistan had won the toss but put Bangladesh into batting.

Man of the Match: Zunaid Siddique (Bangladesh)


ICC Twenty20 World Cup: Pakistan Vs Australia in Photo Index

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Shoaib Malik won the toss and chose to field, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Pakistan celebrate the fall of the in-form Matthew Hayden, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Pakistan are elated after dismissing the in-form Matthew Hayden, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Ricky Ponting is bowled by Mohammad Hafeez, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez realise the importance of Ricky Ponting's wicket, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Mohammad Asif rejoices after dismissing Brad Hodge, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Imran Nazir fetches a six over long leg, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Stuart Clark jolted Pakistan with three early wickets, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Shoaib Malik scored an unbeaten 52 to guide his side home, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Brett Lee tries a run-out as Shoaib Malik looks on, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Misbah-ul-Haq pulls a short one on his way to an unbeaten 66, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Pakistan players celebrate their six-wicket win over Australia, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Misbah-ul-Haq poses with his Man-of-the-Match award, Australia v Pakistan, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 18, 2007

Images Courtesy By Cricinfo


Pakistan enters into T20 WC semifinal by upsetting Australia

JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan upset Australia by six wickets in a group F match of the Super Eights on Tuesday to virtually seal a semi-final place in the Twenty20 world championships.

Pakistan's second win in the group left them needing a point in the last match against Bangladesh in Cape Town on Thursday to move into the last four.

Australia must beat Sri Lanka on Thursday to stay in contention for the semi-finals.

Captain Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul Haq put on a century partnership leading toward big victory of Pakistan.

The pair put on 119 off 78 balls for the unbroken fifth wicket to help their team recover from 46-4 and surpass Australia's 164-7 with five balls to spare in a group F match of the Super Eights at the Wanderers.

Man-of-the match Misbah smashed 66 not out off 42 balls and Malik chipped in with an unbeaten 52 as Pakistan virtually assured themselves of a place in the semi-finals.

Pakistan's second win in the group, following the 33-run win over Sri Lanka on Monday, left them needing a point against Bangladesh in Cape Town on Thursday to move into the last four.

Australia, who must beat Sri Lanka on Thursday to stay in contention for the semi-finals, were left to ponder the jinx that the Wanderers ground holds for them.

It was Australia's first appearance at the historic venue since South Africa successfully chased their formidable 434 with one ball to spare in a memorable one-day international in March, 2006.

Malik and Misbah came to the crease with Pakistan tottering at 46-4 after Stuart Clark grabbed three wickets in his first seven deliveries.

Misbah cracked seven boundaries and a six and Malik hit four fours and two sixes to give Pakistan an emphatic victory over one of the most formidable teams in the 12-nation tournament.

The winning run came through a waist-high full toss bowled by Andrew Symonds which was signalled a wide.

The success was set up by young left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir, who claimed 3-31 in four impressive overs to keep the formidable Australian batting down to 164-7.

The 22-year-old led a disciplined bowling by the Pakistanis after Malik won the toss and elected to field in good batting conditions.

The Australian innings was marked by just one six from Michael Hussey, who top-scored with 37 off 25 balls.

Hussey and Brad Hodge put on 63 in 40 balls for the fifth wicket to boost the total after Australia were struggling at 92-4 in the 12th.

Australia were rattled at the start by Tanvir, who dismissed openers Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist in his first two overs.

Hayden flicked a catch to mid-wicket after making one and Gilchrist, who smashed 24 off 12 balls, was caught at point to make Australia 32-2 in the four over.

Symonds helped captain Ricky Ponting add 48 for the third wicket, himself making an 18-ball 29 when he was bowled by leg-spinner Shahid Afridi in the ninth over.

Three overs later, Ponting attempted to pull Mohammad Hafeez, missed the line and was bowled for 27 to leave his team at 92-4 in the 12th.

Hussey struck the only six of the innings in the 16th over when he lofted Afridi over the straight field and then flicked a boundary later in the over.

Tanvir returned for his final over to dismiss the dangerous Hussey before Mohammad Asif claimed Brad Hodge for 36.

Man of The Match: Misbah-ul-Haq


ICC Twenty20 World Cup: Pakistan Vs Sri Lanka in Photo Index

A cheerleader welcomes Sri Lanka onto the field as Dilhara Fernando looks on, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Mohammad Hafeez pulls a short one during his uneasy stay in the middle, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Dilhara Fernando celebrates Hafeez's dismissal, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Younis Khan dabs one down for a quick single during the century partnership with Shoaib Malik, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Shoaib Malik smashes one down the ground during his rescue act of 57, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Younis Khan sweeps one during his breezy knock, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Mohammad Asif is delighted after sending Kumar Sangakkara back to the pavilion, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Kumar Sangakkara is disappointed after being dismissed by Mohammad Asif, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

The Pakistan players celebrate the fall of Mahela Jayawardene, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Shahid Afridi takes the catch to get rid of Jehan Mubarak, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Chamara Silva plays the sweep shot, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Mahela Jayawardene guides one through the on side during his 27-ball 28, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Tillakaratne Dilshan hit four sixes in his knock of 38, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007

Younis Khan was Man-of-the-Match for his 51 off 35 balls and two catches, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Group F, ICC World Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 17, 2007


Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 33 runs

JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by 33 runs in a group F match of the Super Eights round in the Twenty20 world championships at the Wanderers here on Monday.

Earlier, in Pakistani innings, Malik top-scored with 57 out of a total of 189 for six with support from their most experienced batsman Younis Khan (51) in a stand worth 101 from only 58 balls as both men made hay against Sanath Jayasuriya who conceded 64 off his four overs -- the most expensive figures of the tournament so far.

Pakistan were sent into bat in perfect night-time conditions after Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and chose to field.

His decision seemed to be vindicated during the opening overs from Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando who ensured that Pakistan ended the seventh over on 37 with three wickets down.

Imran Nazir was the first to depart, tamely lobbing a slower ball from the veteran Vaas to Jehan Mubarak, fielding in the covers, for seven at the end of the third over with the score on 22.

Fellow opener Salman Butt followed him back to the changing room only two balls later, clean bowled as he looked to smash Fernando out of the ground for 12.

Fernando then bowled a rare maiden at the Wanderers during the Twenty20 tournament which included the wicket of the dangerous looking Mohammed Hafeez, again bowled with the score on 33.

The extra speed of Lasith Malinga had the effect of accelerating the pace of the Pakistan innings, his first over going for 12.

Jayasuriya suffered similar punishment in his first over, with the Pakistan batsmen appearing to target the 38-year-old spinner as the weak link in the Sri Lankan armoury. His first two overs went for 15.

Worse was to follow in his third. After Younis brought up the century with a boundary off the 77th ball of the innings, Jayasuriya was then launched for another huge six in an over that cost 20.

Malik was having equal fun, taking only 31 balls to reach 57 which included four boundaries and two sixes. He was finally out, caught by Tillekeratane Dilshan off the bowling of Malinga.

A quick-fire 17 off nine balls from master-blaster Shahid Afridi helped take the score close to the 200 mark in what was the 10th time in the tournament that teams had passed the 160 mark, a figure reached only twice elsewhere.


Power-packed Sri Lanka face toughest test

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sri Lanka have been one of the in-form teams in this tournament, quelling with ease challenges from Kenya and New Zealand, but Pakistan, who beat them in a warm-up match, could offer a tougher challenge. Of late, Pakistan have had the measure of the Sri Lankans, losing just two of the last ten ODIs between them, and while Sri Lanka will still start off as favourites, there could be an upset on the cards.

Bat play: Sri Lanka's top order has been in rip-roaring form so far in the tournament, scoring 260 against Kenya and then chasing down 164 with plenty to spare against New Zealand. Both those games were in Johannesburg, which means they are accustomed to the conditions. Sanath Jayasuriya has been pick of the lot so far, scoring 149 runs from 88 balls. His recent ODI form against Pakistan hasn't been so flash, though: in his last ten games against them, he only averages 20.50, and the challenge for Sri Lanka - and the chance for Pakistan - will be if he falls early.

Pakistan's batting has been iffy so far, struggling a bit against Scotland and then making a mess of what should have been a comfortable chase against India. The openers, Imran Nazir and Salman Butt, have failed in both innings, and Mohammad Hafeez might get a look-in at the top of the order on Monday. Misbah-ul-Haq has been the man in form, and deserves to bat higher than his No. 6 slot.

Wrecking ball: Mohammad Asif destroyed India's top order and still finished on the losing side in Durban, but in the excellent batting conditions that have been a constant here, even Asif might struggle. With slow bowlers doing so well here, Hafeez is a near-certainty to play, and his canny offspin will bolster Pakistan's bowling strength.

Sri Lanka's weak link in their game against New Zealand was Gayan Wijekoon, the left-arm medium pacer who has neither the pace nor the consistency to cut it in this format. Expect him to be replaced, possibly by Kaushal Lokuarachchi, who was the 12th man against New Zealand.

Keep your eye on: Mahela Jayawardene. He played a little gem against New Zealand, scoring 35 from 18 balls, and is in good enough form to play a match-winning hand.

Pitching it right: It doesn't matter which strip in the square is used, it'll still be superb for batting. Under light, the ball should come on to the bat even better.


Pakistan (likely): Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik (capt), Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal (wk), Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif

Sri Lanka (likely): Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Chamara Silva, Jehan Mubarak, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kaushal Lokuarachchi, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando


Use of ball out rule was unexpected: Malik

Saturday, September 15, 2007

DURBAN: Captain of Pakistan cricket team Shoaib Malik said that implementation of ball out rule in the match against India was unexpected for his team.

In a post match press conference here, Shoaib said that team had tried hard to win the match but the match was decided off the field.

Pakistani skipper said that the application of ball rule was unexpected for him. Players performed well and they lost the match after giving tough time to the opponents.

Indian captain Mahindra Singh Dhoni said that he is happy that his team continued the sequence of defeating Pakistan in world cup matches. He would try to continue perform well in forthcoming matches of the tournament.


Tied match turns in India’s favour on bowl-out rule

DURBAN: After the sensational match between the arch rivals tied, India turned it in their favour on the basis of bowl-out rule in the Twenty20 World Cup tournament here on Friday. However, both teams qualified for the super-eight round from group-D.

The bowl-out rule has been introduced for the first time in the history of this new type of cricket.

Set an easy target of 142 in 20 overs, Pakistan managed to get out of a certain defeat and tied the match against their old rival but the umpires decided to experiment a new rule of bowl-out in the match. They invited five bowlers from each team to hit the stumps on five deliveries. Indian bowlers hit the stumps on three consecutive balls while Pakistani bowlers missed all the three hits and lost the match 3-0.

Earlier, India scored 141 runs for nine wickets after Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik put them into batting after winning the toss in the high voltage clash between the arch rivals.

The Indians got off to a disastrous start losing the three frontline batsmen courtesy Mohammad Asif.

Robin Uthappa once again kept his cool and played some great cricket under tremendous pressure and got to his maiden T20I fifty in his first appearance in this version.

Dhoni supported him well and together they made sure that India get off to a respectable score.

Irfan Pathan hit two massive two sixes in Shahid Afridi's over but was bowled on the last ball for 20 runs.

Mohammad Asif bowled extraordinarily well taking four wickets for eighteen runs in his four over spell.

In reply, Pakistani batsmen could not face Indian bowlers well except Misbah-ul-Haq, who scored 53 and was run out on the last ball of the innings to see the match tied.


PCB still hopeful of weaning away Yousuf from ICL

NEW DELHI: Nasim Ashraf does not squirm as he dubs Mohammad Yousuf as the backbone of Pakistani batting line-up and the PCB chairman is optimistic that the run-machine is not yet lost to the lure of Indian Cricket League (ICL). Yousuf’s decision to defect to the cash-rich ICL, even if it jeopardised his career with the national team, rocked the PCB but Ashraf insists he has not given up yet.
“Yes, he has been the backbone of Pakistan batting and we badly need him back to where he belonged. Whether it’s Test or one-dayers, he was one player we could not do away with. And I’m still confident that we would see him in Pakistan colours again,”
he said.


Pressure on India as traditional rivals clash

Friday, September 14, 2007

India's stay in South Africa might be a short one if Shahid Afridi gets going in Durban

When India and Pakistan clash, the buzz is generally around the players who could turn in the match-winning performance, but thanks to all the rain around Durban the weather has taken centrestage on the eve of this high-profile game - the forecast predicts 60% chance of evening showers.

Pakistan have already qualified for the Super Eights and can, if they choose to, take this as a practice match before the next stage. India, though, have more at stake: if they lose such that their run-rate is more than 2.55 lesser than Pakistan's (by more than 51 runs if Pakistan score 160, or if Pakistan chase down India's 160 in 15 overs or lesser), they will be knocked out of the Super Eights stage of a World Cup for the second time in one year.

Despite all the talk by Mahendra Singh Dhoni to the contrary, the Indians will be feeling the pressure when they step out at Kingsmead on Friday.

Bat play: The Indians missed out on an opportunity to get a hit in the middle, but Dhoni mentioned after the wash-out that the same 12 have been chosen for Friday. That probably means the same XI will play, and the batting line-up will be exactly the same as well. There are potential match-winners there, but the challenge will be to step it up against a dangerous bowling attack in conditions which will be unfamiliar for the Indians.

Pakistan's batting wasn't entirely convincing either, but it always looked like they weren't pushing the accelerator at full throttle. Even with qualification not on the line, expect them to come hard at the Indian bowlers. A promotion up the order is on the cards for Shahid Afridi.

Wrecking ball: Umar Gul had a field day against Scotland, and if conditions remain overcast - and forecasts suggest they will - expect Gul and Mohammad Asif to ask plenty of questions of the Indian batsmen. India have Sreesanth, RP Singh and Ajit Agarkar in their ranks, but if conditions assist swing, Irfan Pathan, who already has a hat-trick to his name against Pakistan is Tests, could be the one to watch out for.

Keep your eye on: Asif. The Indians have generally struggled against him, and even a batsman-dominated game, his four overs could push them back significantly.

Shop talk: Most players like to play down the significance of an India-Pakistan match, but Salman Butt, the Pakistan opener, made no attempt to pass it off as just another game. "It's the biggest game there is," Butt said. "The whole nation will be depending on us to do well. There are two sides to the coin. You can either see the match as a pressure situation or as an opportunity to perform."

Dhoni, on the other hand, refused to believe the washout against Scotland had placed his team under extra pressure. "There is so much pressure in international cricket that a little extra expectation makes no difference." The Indians will also be putting on the line their record of never having lost to Pakistan in a World Cup match: they have beaten them four times, though they were all in the 50-over format.

Pitching it right: If the first two games here were any indication, the pitch should offer a few challenges to the batsmen - there was sideways movement on offer, which could be exaggerated under cloudy skies.

India (likely): Virender Sehwag, Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, RP Singh, Sreesanth.

Pakistan (likely): Salman Butt, Shahid Afridi, Imran Nazir, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif.

Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?