Vol. 5 Num 272 Thu. March 03, 2005  

Don't call Pakistan weak

Pakistan captain Inzamamul Haq on Wednesday brushed aside criticism over his team, saying they were talented enough to raise their game against India in the upcoming Test series.

"My team may be inexperienced, but not weak," Inzamam said after his side's practice session amid tight security on the eve of a three-day game against an Indian Board President's team.

"I've been leading more or less the same team for the past two years and we've done well against India, especially in one-dayers. I am sure the boys will put in an impressive performance on this tour," he said.

Pakistan will play three Tests and six one-day internationals on their high-profile tour of India, their first in six years. The opening Test begins at Mohali on March 8.

The Pakistani skipper also played down Shoaib Akhtar's absence, saying his bowlers had delivered without the key fast bowler in recent matches.

Akhtar had pulled out of the tour due a hamstring injury, leaving Pakistan short on bowling experience.

"We did well in a recent triangular one-day series in Australia without him (Akhtar) and we'll try to do the same here. Sportsmen do suffer injuries and it can't be helped," said Inzamam.

"The boys are working hard and keen to give good performances."

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer echoed his captain's sentiments, saying the team had tremendous talent and would face little problem adjusting to the Indian conditions.

"We expect pitches to turn in India and our players will have to learn to adapt themselves, but we have a talented batting line-up. We have a very good team in the making," he said.

The Pakistani coach felt leg-spinner Danish Kaneria could play a key role on low, slow Indian tracks.

"We have an effective spinner in Kaneria who can become one of the best leg-spinners in world cricket. He has the potential to become one as he is a different type of leg-spinner," said Woolmer.

Test-discard Mohammad Kaif, leading the Board President's team said the tourists would not find it easy in their only practice game before the Test series.

"We will try to make things difficult for Pakistan as they are playing the first match on the tour," said Kaif, who was dropped from the Indian side despite performing well against Australia in a home Test series last year.

"I was disappointed not to find a place in the Indian team, but my job is to score runs. As a captain, I now have to set an example for the guys," said Kaif.

PAKISTAN (from): Inzamamul Haq (captain), Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed, Younis Khan, Yousuf Youhana, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Navedul Hasan, Mohammad Sami, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Khalil, Asim Kamal, Taufeeq Umar, Shahid Afridi, Arshad Khan.

BOARD PRESIDENT'S XI (from): Mohammad Kaif (captain), Satyajit Parab, Dheeraj Jadhav, Shikhir Dhawan, Venugopala Rao, Suresh Raina, Neeraj Patel, Parthiv Patel, Ramesh Powar, Shib Shankar Paul, Rudra Pratap Singh, Gagandeep Singh, Ranadeb Bose, Ram Kumar.

Pakistan captain Inzamamul Haq bats in the nets during a practice session at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium in Dharamshala yesterday. PHOTO: AFP