Friday, February 11, 2011

Razzaq will hog the limelight in WC: Akram.

Even as the cricketing world goes bonkers over Yusuf Pathan and Shane Watson's all-round abilities, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram tips countryman Abdul Razzaq to hog the limelight in the forthcoming World

"In spite of his great experience, he is relatively young and a proven match winner. If Razzaq can be a bit more mentally tough and physically robust, he will definitely end up as the player of the tournament," said Akram.

"He is definitely up there with Shane Watson and Yusuf Pathan, but is somewhat lacking in his bowling skills. Razzaq will have to focus on pace and improve his fielding too," he added.

Emphasising further on the role of all-rounders in a big tournament like the World Cup, Akram said, "They have a great role to play and the teams that have them will be at a great advantage. There was a time, when Imran (Khan), Kapil Dev, Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee would vie among each other for the No. 1 all-rounder tag."

"In this World Cup, it will be among Watson, Yusuf and Razzaq. These three can make or break their team's fortunes," he said.

The former left-arm pacer also pointed out that Pakistan's fortunes will, to an extent, depend on how the next two months pan out for a few individuals, especially Umar Gul and Shoaib Akhtar.

"A few individuals will have to play leading roles for Pakistan. In the absence of Mohammed Amir and Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul will have to spearhead the bowling attack. Gul is bowling quick and if he can utilise the reverse swing, he will be deadly," Akram said.

As far as Akhtar is concerned, Akram said the express bowler should be used in short bursts.
"I hope Akhtar stays fit throughout the tournament. Shahid Afridi's main job is to handle Akhtar well. In a recent interview, Afridi said he sees a limited role for the veteran pacer. I agree with him."

"Akhtar should be used in short bursts, of about four overs at the start of the innings, then he can bowl a couple in the middle and then in the slog overs. Because Pakistan need Akhtar's pace, short spells will be best. His reverse swing at hostile pace will be really effective," Akram said.

The former captain believed that Sohail Tanvir's absence will hurt Pakistan. "After Razzaq, he was a dependable all-rounder. Tanvir is a good batsman and could have contributed lower down the order.
"But I think, with Afridi around, there is plenty of option. Team selection will certainly be key," he said.

Akram picked young Ahmad Shahzad, who recently scored a century against New Zealand, as the player to watch out for.

"Shahzad will be the player to watch out for. Apparently, I am his 'hero' but he compares his batting style after Sachin Tendulkar. Just 20, Shahzad is extremely promising. He left his mark with a century against New Zealand recently and he is high on confidence and won't succumb to pressure easily.

"I have watched him play in the under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. He has got all the shots in the book and his best form of defence is to attack. I think Shahzad will be very consistent on sub-continental tracks."

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