Akram surprised at PCB not naming the captain for World Cup

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Karachi, Jan 19 (PTI) Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akramhas expressed surprise over the decision of the PakistanCricket Board (PCB) to withhold the name of the captain whileannouncing the 15-member squad for the ICC Cricket World Cupto be held in the sub-continent from February 19.

"It is a strange practice to me and it only means that itgives many players an idea that they are contenders for thecaptaincy and that could spoil the spirit in the dressingroom," Akram told reporters at a cricket writers function.

"The captain should have been announced first and thesquad should have been picked with his input to the selectorsas well," he added.

The former fast bowling great said that the board shouldnot waste anymore time in announcing the World Cup captain.

"If the board is waiting to see how Afridi performs ascaptain in the one-day series in New Zealand I don''t thinkthat is a wise move because this is not the time to changethe captain. For the World Cup they must persist with Afridi,"said Akram.

Pakistan will play the six-match one-day series againstNew Zealand from January 22 to February 5.

Akram also refused to agree that even if the threeplayers -- Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif --were cleared of the spot-fixing charges on February 5, theywould be in the proper state of mind to play the World Cup.

"Even if any of these players are cleared I don''t thinkit would be a good idea to include them into the World Cupsquad because they were suspended in September and since thenhave have been going through a lot of mental pressure andstress.

"I think it would be better to give them sometime tosettle down and then include them into the national team,"said the former pacer. .

Akram, who led Pakistan in two World Cup in 1996 and 1999, guiding the team to the final of the ''99 edition, wasalso a member of the 1992 winning squad.

He said that the batting would play an important role onthe generally slow pitches in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"It is a fallacy to think that the pitches would betailor made for spinners. Yes, they will get help but the mostimportant thing would be to put enough runs on the board. AndI think it is the batting on which the Pakistan team shouldfocus a lot"

The former captain backed the decision of the selectorsto include youngsters Ahmed Shehzad and Asad Shafiq in theWorld Cup squad.

"I think the selectors didn''t go with Mohammad Yousuf''sexperience because they had doubts and issues with hisfitness. But Shehzad and Shafiq are good young talentedplayers and can deliver in the World Cup," Akram said.

Akram said overall Pakistan had announced a good balancedside for the World Cup which had the firepower to go to thefinal stages.

"You can never ignore the Pakistani team from achievingany target, so they will always been among the front-runners,"added Akram.

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