Karachi: Former Pakistan captain Zaheer Abbas feels that players representing the country in the upcoming World Cup will have to play out of their skin if they are to reach the last four stage of the mega event.
"Given the problems and issues Pakistan cricket has faced in the last one year and also the fact that we have lost three of our top players, it is difficult to see Pakistan among the top four in this World Cup," Zaheer told reporters on the sidelines of an exhibition here today.
"If Pakistan are to make the semi-finals it will have to play extraordinarily and consistently well because I
personally believe India, England, Australia and South Africa are the starting top four teams of the World Cup," he said.
The elegant batsman of the yesteryears said that Pakistan cricket had done well to slowly recover from problems like spot-fixing.
"But this process will take time and it is good to see that the new players inducted in the team in place of Salman Butt, Muhammad Aamir and Muhammad Asif are shaping up well.”
"But to expect this team to fire in the World Cup is a bit difficult."
He said if Pakistan cricket authorities had acted on the match-fixing allegations years back and taken strict action, the sport would not have faced the crisis it is facing today.
"Because we didn`t take action on the fixing allegations years back that today we are in a position where we have lost three very good and experienced players," he said.
Zaheer, who has backed Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq to lead the side in the World Cup, however felt that the board has delayed the captaincy issue for too long now.
"I don`t think now with the World Cup just weeks away it would be wise to change the captain and Shahid Afridi, who is leading the team in the one-day series in New Zealand, should continue as captain for the World Cup.”
Zaheer also felt that Pakistan`s hopes of doing well in the World Cup would brighten if they win the remaining three matches against New Zealand.
"So far they have not really dominated the New Zealand team, which to me, is weaker compared to us.”
"We should, on paper, beat them in all three matches and if this happens then Pakistan?s chances of doing well in the World Cup will improve," he said.
"We have already delayed our final World Cup preparations and plans compared to other teams, so, it is important we make the most of this series in New Zealand," he said.