Karachi, Jan 31 (PTI) Former Pakistan captain ZaheerAbbas feels that players representing the country in theupcoming World Cup will have to play out of their skin if theyare to reach the last four stage of the mega event.
"Given the problems and issues Pakistan cricket has facedin the last one year and also the fact that we have lost threeof our top players, it is difficult to see Pakistan among thetop four in this World Cup," Zaheer told reporters on thesidelines of a exhibition here today.
"If Pakistan are to make the semi-finals it will have toplay extraordinarily and consistently well because Ipersonally believe India, England, Australia and South Africaare the starting top four teams of the World Cup," he said.
The elegant batsman of the yesteryears said that Pakistancricket had done well to slowly recover from problems likespot-fixing.
"But this process will take time and it is good to seethat the new players inducted in the team in place of SalmanButt, Muhammad Aamir and Muhammad Asif are shaping up well.
"But to expect this team to fire in the World Cup is abit difficult."
He said if Pakistan cricket authorities had acted on thematch-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 allegationsyears back that today we are in a position where we have lostthree very good and experienced players," he said.
Zaheer, who has backed Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq to leadthe side in the World Cup, however felt that the board hasdelayed the captaincy issue for too long now.
"I don''t think now with the World Cup just weeks away itwould be wise to change the captain and Shahid Afridi, who isleading the team in the one-day series in New Zealand, shouldcontinue as captain for the World Cup.
Zaheer also felt that Pakistan''s hopes of doing well inthe World Cup would brighten if they win the remaining threematches against New Zealand.
"So far they have not really dominated the New Zealandteam, which to me, is weaker compared to us.
"We should, on paper, beat them in all three matches andif this happens then Pakistan�s chances of doing well in theWorld Cup will improve," he said.
"We have already delayed our final World Cup preparationsand plans compared to other teams, so, it is important we makethe most of this series in New Zealand," he said.