|Event:||ICC Champions Trophy 2009/10|
DateLine: 17th September 2009
Skipper Younus Khan said Thursday he would love to compete against a strong West Indies in the upcoming Champions Trophy as the Pakistan squad flew out for the tournament.
A long-standing players' contract row forced the West Indies Cricket Board to enter a weakened squad for the elite-eight nation event which runs in South Africa from September 22-October 1.
As a result, leading players such as Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo are not part of the squad which is led by little known Floyd Reifer.
Reports suggest the West Indies can still include some of the leading players if a settlement is reached -- a scenario also acceptable to the International Cricket Council.
Younus said it was in the best interest of the game for the West Indies to enter a strong squad.
"West Indies have always been my favourite team and I would love to compete against a full-strength West Indies side," said Younus of his team's opponents in the first match of the Trophy on September 23.
"It would be in the best interest of the game as well as for the Champions Trophy that West Indies play all its top players, because the event is billed as the best against the best and I would not enjoy a weakened side."
Pakistan also play India (September 26) and Australia (September 30) in Group A while South Africa, Sri Lanka, England and New Zealand form Group B. The top two teams qualify for the semi-finals.
Pakistan's 14-man squad left Karachi on Thursday for Johannesburg without disgraced paceman Mohammad Asif.
Asif, whose one-year doping ban expires on Tuesday, will fly out on September 21 via London to avoid Dubai where he was detained for 19 days on charges of possessing a banned drug before being deported last year.
Asif, whose failed dope test during the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League last year resulted in the ban, will be available for Pakistan's first match against the West Indies.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed they sought clarification from the Dubai authorities over Asif.
"We are due to play a series in Abu Dhabi and Dubai against New Zealand next month, so we need to know whether he can travel to the United Arab Emirates or not," PCB official Wasim Bari was quoted as saying in local media.
(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)