Pak should include Akhtar against India
Former Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram feels retiring pacer Shoaib Akhtar should be included in the team for the World Cup semi-final against India even though he conceded that having the temperamental bowler in the line-up is a "big risk".
"Maybe Pakistan will play Shoaib Akhtar against India. I feel he deserves a place for sure. Wahab Riaz is bowling well but he is nothing exceptional and Shoaib could take his place. Shoaib`s only problem in this ICC CWC has been his second spell. I have advised him to warm up before the second spell and that will help him," Akram said.
The express bowler, who would retire after the World Cup, dismissed Sachin Tendulkar in the 2003 edition to deny the Indian a century. Akram said the 35-year-old Akhtar is at his best against India.
"Shoaib against the Indians is always very dangerous. I know it is a big risk, but luck favours the brave. Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag are top-class players but against Shoaib it`s a different duel altogether. He is an entertainer and he loves the big stage," said Akram.
"Saeed Ajmal bowled well against Australia. Though Pakistan can even revert to Abdur Rehman for the semis. Probably Shahid will assess the Mohali pitch and then take a call. When a team is performing well, these are good problems to have," Akram told reporters.
India have won all the four World Cup encounters against Pakistan since 1992 and Akram predicted a close game even this time when the two sides clash on March 30 in Mohali.
"I feel that India are the favourites against Pakistan. Though Pakistan are also playing good cricket. India are definitely strong on paper, are an experienced side. Pakistan have an edge in the bowling department, they have a better variety.”
"India-Pakistan match is always a pressure-cooker affair, whether you play in front of an empty stand or in Timbuktu. It will certainly be a close game," said Akram.