Wasim tips Pakistan to win World T20 C’ship

KARACHIi: Famed paceman Wasim Akram on Thursday tipped Pakistan to win next month's World Twenty20 in England, predicting the green shirts can triumph if they play to their potential.

"My favourite team is Pakistan," Wasim said. "I thought Australia would thrash them in the one-off T20 match in Dubai but it was the other way round and now, if Pakistan play to their potential, they can win the title." Pakistan beat Australia by seven wickets in the only Twenty20 match in Dubai earlier this month — their last international match before the World Twenty20 in England from June 5.

Australia won the preceding five-match one-day series 3-2, a loss that Wasim said was unacceptable. "Pakistan did not play to their potential and I hope Younus Khan will learn from his mistakes as captain because there is no margin of error in the Twenty20 matches," he said.

Wasim played 104 Tests and 356 one-day internationals before retiring in 2003. Pakistan are in Group B alongside hosts England and the Netherlands. Two teams from each of four groups will qualify for the Super Eight Stages. Pakistan chalked up a five-run defeat against India in the final of the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa.

Wasim said batting can let Pakistan down. "With Umar Gul and Shoail Tanvir, Pakistan has the best bowling attack backed by quality spin of Shahid Afridi," said Wasim. "I am also impressed with the talent of Mohammad Aamir who is nippy and can swing the ball both ways. He could be a revelation in the event," said Wasim. "But batting can let Pakistan down, as it has always done in the past, so there will be more responsibility on Younus, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi. Twenty20 is not only thrashing, it is also sensible batting."

Wasim believed defending champions India could suffer from a hectic season. "I think Pakistan has played less cricket and will be fresh, while Indian players could be fatigued after playing in the Indian Premier League," he said.

Paceman Akhtar ruled out

Lahore: Pakistan on Thursday pulled fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar out of next month's World Twenty20 tournament in England due to injury, Pakistan Cricket Board said. The 33-year-old missed last week's conditioning camp in a luxury Pakistani hill resort due to injuries on his groin and his omission had been widely expected after he missed the first of three practice matches here on Wednesday.

"We have pulled him out of the World Twenty20 on the basis of a medical report given by our doctor which said that Akhtar needs 10 days to recover from groin wounds," the PCB said. "The medical board has reported that Akhtar was suffering from genital viral warts," it said in a statement, adding that he would need another 10 days of care and treatment.

Akhtar becomes the first casualty of the 12-team event for which final 15-man squads were announced on May 5. The PCB said it had written to the technical committee of the World Twenty20 for the right to name a replacement after the fast bowler's fitness was assessed by a three-man panel on Thursday.

Coach Intikhab Alam backed Akhtar's omission on fitness grounds. "We can't keep a half-fit player for a major event," Alam told reporters. "He has not done any training for the last 15-20 days and missed last week's camp. His performance is for all to judge to his form, so we had to take this decision and fortunately it happened before the event started," said Alam.

Akhtar is likely to be replaced by paceman Rao Iftikhar for the second edition of the World Twenty20 which starts in England from June 5. "We have sent Iftikhar's name as replacement and he attended the camp and is in good shape," said Alam.