Pakistan`s WC preparation not up to the mark

Pakistan`s preparation for 2011 World Cup is not going on the right track and it`s high time the selectors should handpick the preliminary squad to give enough time to the players to gel as a unit, feels former captain Wasim Akram.

Akram statement came close on the heels of skipper Shahid Afridi and coach Waqar Younis` observation during the national camp in Lahore that Pakistan needed to step up its preparation for the World Cup, starting February 19.

"It is good they (Afridi and Younis) have spoken the reality because it is a fact. Even, I feel our preparations are not up to the mark," Akram told reporters here.

"It is better not to give false hopes to people. I think the cricket board (PCB) has already delayed long enough the announcement of players for the World Cup," the former Test pacer said.

"I don`t see the purpose of wasting anymore time. The players who are going to play in the World Cup should know where they stand and what are the expectations from them," he added.

He was of the view that the quadrennial event in the sub-continent will provide Pakistan a great opportunity to make up for all the disappointment this year.

"In the last two tournaments we didn`t do well at all and it was a huge disappointment for everyone. This time we have the opportunity to make amends. But time is of great essence now because the quicker the probables are selected, it will allow the players to prepare properly," Akram explained.

He, however, declined to comment on the fate of the players, who are under investigation for spot-fixing allegations, but made it clear that no player was irreplaceable.

"We have a lot of talent in Pakistan cricket. We have players who are good enough to stand up and be counted at the top level. So, we shouldn`t be too worried about availability of players," Akram added.

Pakistan is scheduled to tour New Zealand later this month for three T20 Internationals, two Tests and six ODIs, and Akram said the national team should be wary of a backlash from the Kiwis after their recent drubbing at the hands of Bangladesh and India.

"They have lost badly to Bangladesh and India but I believe New Zealand is always a difficult team in their own backyard. Pakistan should not take them lightly at all," he cautioned.

"New Zealand has been hammered but they would be a different side at home and it will be tough for Pakistan," the former captain said.

Akram, however, said that Pakistan was capable of beating New Zealand in their own backyard.

"Pakistan have the ability, their performance against South Africa was satisfactory. The players just need support," he said, adding that presence of Younus Khan and captain Misbah-ul Haq is a big boost for the team.