DateLine: 21st May 2009
Famed paceman Wasim Akram on Thursday tipped Pakistan to win next month's World Twenty20 in England, predicting the green shirts can triumph if they play to their potential.
"My favourite team is Pakistan," Wasim told AFP. "I thought Australia would thrash them in the one-off T20 match in Dubai but it was the other way round and now, if Pakistan play to their potential, they can win the title."
Pakistan beat Australia by seven wickets in the only Twenty20 match in Dubai earlier this month -- their last international match before the World Twenty20 in England starting from June 5.
Australia, however, won the preceding five-match one-day series 3-2, a loss that Wasim said was unacceptable.
"Pakistan did not play to their potential in the second, third and fourth match and I hope Younus Khan will learn from his mistakes as captain because there is no margin of error in the Twenty20 matches," said Wasim.
He played 104 Tests and 356 one-day internationals before retiring in 2003.
Pakistan are in Group B alongside hosts England and the Netherlands. Two teams from each of four groups will qualify for the Super Eight Stages.
Wasim said Pakistan had been doing well in T20 matches since their inception in 2005.
"Pakistan has the best winning ratio of all the teams in the Twenty20 cricket, so if they continue to keep that consistency it won't be difficult to win after losing the last match in 2007," said Wasim.
Pakistan chalked up a five-run defeat against India in the final of the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa.
Wasim said batting can let Pakistan down.
"With Umar Gul, Shoail Tanvir and Shoaib Akhtar, if he is fit and going with the team, Pakistan has the best bowling attack backed by quality spin of Shahid Afridi," said Wasim, himself a world class left-arm paceman.
"I am also impressed with the talent of Mohammad Aamir who is nippy and can swing the ball both ways. He could be a revelation in the event," said Wasim of the 17-year-old rookie left-armer included in the 15-man squad.
"But batting can let Pakistan down, as it has always done in the past, so there will be more responsibility on Younus, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi. Twenty20 is not only thrashing, it is also sensible batting."
Wasim believed defending champions India could suffer from a hectic season.
"I think Pakistan has played less cricket and will be fresh, while Indian players could be fatigued after playing in the Indian Premier League," he said.
(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)