DateLine: 8th May 2009
Pakistan and India are favourites to win next month's World Twenty20 tournament, as both have shown good form in the game's rapid-fire version, Pakistan's stand-in captain Misbah-ul-Haq said Friday.
"Both Pakistan and India have been doing very well in Twenty20 cricket, so I think both have a very good chance of winning the World Twenty20," Haq said after Pakistan's seven-wicket win over Australia here Thursday.
Pakistan, led by Haq after regular captain Younus Khan pulled out due to fever, rode on a career-best 4-8 by paceman Umar Gul and leg-spinner Shahid Afridi (3-14) to dismiss Australia for a low score of 108.
In reply, Kamran Akmal hit a fiery 59 to help Pakistan reach their target with 3.5 overs to spare -- an emphatic win that Haq said would lift his team's spirits ahead of the World Twenty20 starting in England next month.
"I think this win is an indicator of where we stand," said Haq, who scored 24 and added 85 for the third wicket with Akmal. "This win will be a great morale booster for the team," which lost the preceding one-day series 3-2.
Thursday's victory was Pakistan's 17th out of 20 Twenty20 matches it has played since this popular brand of cricket was introduced in 2005.
Pakistan finished runners-up to India in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup, held in South Africa two years ago.
Haq said he believed Pakistan's domestic Twenty20 championship had helped to build the team.
"We have been playing a Twenty20 tournament every year and that has matured us. Fortunately, we are again playing that event in Pakistan before going to England," said Haq.
Besides India and Pakistan, Haq also fancied the chances of South Africa and New Zealand in next month's tournament.
"Any team can win a Twenty20 game but you need discipline and luck. I think South Africa and New Zealand are also two very good teams," he said.
Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam said the team would play practice matches before the event in England.
"I am pleased with the performance of the team," said Alam. "Had we been as clinical in the one-day series we would have won that as well. We will play some practice Twenty20 matches so that the team tunes up well."
Australia's stand-in captain Brad Haddin said he hoped his team's defeat Thursday would not demoralise them.
"You can't judge the form of the team on one game," said Haddin, who replaced Michael Clarke as captain after Clarke returned home for a rest.
"We were progressing well in the first five overs but then we lost track and were totally outplayed by Pakistan," he said.
"But I hope it's not going to affect us as we have some 20-25 days to prepare," for the Twenty20 tournament.
(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)