Looking forward to duel with Tendulkar: Akhtar
Dhaka: Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has lot of reasons to look forward to the upcoming World Cup, having missed the previous edition due to a doping ban, and one of them is the possibility of a duel with Indian batting icon Sachin Tendulkar.
“We all know he is a great player. Every bowler gets hit. Even Brett Lee gets hit a long way, so I am not worried about being hit for sixes by Tendulkar. I have got him off the first ball too,” Akhtar told reporters here.
“Not only Sachin, we will try to get other key players early because they can single-handedly win matches. Put them under pressure, and get them out early -- that’s what I will like to do,” he added.
India and Pakistan are placed in different groups for the event, starting February 19 here. The top-four from each group would advance to the quarterfinals and it is only from here on that the possibility of an Indo-Pak clash arises if the two teams move ahead from their respective pools.
Speaking of Pakistan’s chances, Akhtar said the team has to win the mega-event to reclaim the fan-base that has been hit due to the scandalous one year in which three of the team’s top players were handed bans for involvement in spot-fixing.
Akhtar admitted that former captain Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif -- the trio banned by the ICC -- would be missed.
“Obviously we are very hurt inside by whatever has happened to us. Pakistan need to win this World Cup at any cost. It will bring the charm back for people in Pakistan,” said Akhtar.
“We are unfortunate that they are not there. But what can we do now? We have got to move on. I think whatever pace attack we have is good enough to win matches.”
“We have the bowlers who can bowl at the death and we can restrict the sides. The main thing is that the ball is going to reverse swing as the match progresses. That is where I think Pakistan’s strength lies,” he added.
The 35-year-old said despite his age, he can still bowl at 150/kph.
“I still bowl 150 kph (93 mph). Obviously when you are 26 and 36, it’s a bit different. I will try to do as well as I can with whatever ability I have. I am going to push my limits and give it all to the team.”