`India match big chance for Pak to avenge 1996, 2003 WC loss`

Updated: Mar 25, 2011, 21:58 PM IST

Karachi: Former captain Rashid Latif feels that Pakistan`s mouth-watering semifinal clash against India in the ongoing World Cup is a big chance for coach Waqar Younis and his players to avenge the national team`s loses at the hands of the arch-rivals in the 1996 and 2003 edition of the event.

In the 1996 World Cup, which was held in the sub-continent, Waqar was a senior member of the Pakistan team that was knocked out by India in the quarter-finals.

If that was not enough, in the 2003 edition in South Africa, Waqar was the captain of the Pakistan team which was knocked out in the first round after losing badly to India at Centurion.

"I see the Mohali semi-final between India and Pakistan as the biggest match of the World Cup since 1996. It is a do-or-die situation for both teams and it would not be wrong to say that it is the mother of all matches," Latif told reporters.

"The Indians may like to say that they now regard their matches against Australia as their biggest challenge but in heart they know there is going to be no bigger match or challenge for them then the Mohali match," he said of the high-profile match to be held in Mohali on March 30.

"It was heart-breaking to see the quarter-final slip away from us. The same thing happened in 2003. The way I see it the Mohali match represents the best opportunity for Waqar and his players to avenge those defeats," Latif added.

The former Pakistan wicket-keeper admitted that losing the quarter-final to India at Bangalore in 1996 World Cup remained the biggest regret of his career.

"I was the part of that game and believe me I still feel the pain. People have not forgotten that match even after 15 years. Every player wants to be remembered in history and an Indo-Pak encounter is an ideal opportunity to reach stardom in a flash.

"Javed Miandad, despite his other great performances, is still remembered for his famous hit against India," Latif said.

Waqar and present manager of Pakistan team, Intikhab Alam, who was the coach the then, were the only survivor of the 1996 World Cup side who are still attached with the national team.

And Latif said no one can ever understand better the agony of those two defeats than Waqar.

"He is lucky to have got another chance to erase those bitter memories," he said.

The former skipper while, supporting the existing combination, urged the team management to include Shoaib Akthar in the playing eleven to provide the team with the right balance against the mighty Indian batting line-up.

"Akthar has always been a team man and his aggression and zeal, while playing against India, could be beneficial for Pakistan. I feel the team management is aware of this as well.

Also, since Afridi is in supreme bowling form hence he should bowl a bit earlier," Latif maintained.

"Against India we have always whenever we played with passion and unity. This team stands with a good chance against India. Akmal brothers -- Kamran and Umar, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Younus Khan will the players to watch for in the match," he added.