Pakistan keen to start with a bang against minnows Kenya

Posted By: Pti
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Hambantota (Sri Lanka), Feb 22 (PTI) Keen to re-establishtheir reputation dented by the spot-fixing scandal,unpredictable Pakistan will look to launch their cricket WorldCup campaign on a rousing note when they take on minnows heretomorrow.

Having suffered an embarrassing defeat at thehands of Ireland, which eventually resulted in their firstround ouster the 2007 edition, Pakistan would be wary oftaking their opponents lightly this time around.

In fact, captain Shahid Afridi has already warned histeam to take every opponent seriously.

"There have been so many upsets in the World Cup in thepast, like the one against Ireland four years ago. So we havethat in mind and we will be on our toes in every match, be itKenya or Sri Lanka," said Afridi.

Going into the match, Pakistan would take heart fromtheir recent 3-2 one-day series victory over New Zealand inNew Zealand just before the World Cup.

And even though they had mixed fortunes in the their twowarm-up games -- a win against Bangladesh and a defeat againstEngland, Pakistan are well aware that if they play as a unit,they have enough firepower to go a long distance in thetournament.

Pakistan''s batting consisting of the likes of MohammadHafeez, former captain Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Akmalbrothers -- Kamran and Umar, has the reputation of creatingquite a flutter in the opposition camp.

In the absence of their banned opener Salman Butt,Pakistan would be banking on Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad in theopening slot, followed by the more experienced middle-order.

Veteran Younis Khan is expected to bring in stabilitywith all his experience of playing international cricket,followed by Test skipper and in-form Misbah and the twoAkmals.

And with captain Shahid Afridi and allrounder AbdulRazzaq coming down the order, Pakistan should not have anytrouble blowing the Kenyans away in their inaugural match.

As far as bowling department is concerned, Shoaib Akhtarand Umar Gul would be looking to go for the kill from the veryfirst ball. This match will also give both the pacemen anopportunity to get back to their peak form.

Even Saeed Ajmal would get a chance to experiment withhis doosra before his team face bigger names during the courseof the tournament. Allrounder Afridi''s fast-wrist spin is alsoexpected to come in handy against the African nation. More PTICM MRM

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