'Pakistan team at World Cup has the spirit of cornered tigers'

Karachi, Jan 27: If there is one team among the top eight at the ICC World Cup which could either crash out embarrassingly in the first round or romp to the title, it's Pakistan.

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The talented yet unpredictable side are haunted by injuries to their fast bowlers, the suspension of match-winning spinner Saeed Ajmal and a tussle for the captaincy between Misbah-ul Haq and Shahid Afridi.

File picture of Pakistani players celebrating a win

All seems to have settled down as Misbah's men embark on a mission to match Imran Khan's World Cup triumph - Pakistan's only win - in Australia some 23 years ago. ('Ghost shook my bed': Pakistan cricketer)

"This team has the spirit of cornered tigers," said chief selector and former captain Moin Khan, a key member of 1992 winning team. "If they play to their potential this team can surprise the world."

Captain Misbah, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, is also confident of the best results. "The format of this World Cup is such that teams have a lot of opportunities," said Misbah, who will retire from one-day cricket after the World Cup.

"It would be the icing on the cake if I end my one-day career with the trophy." But Misbah knows his bowling will miss Ajmal, who has single-handedly won matches for Pakistan before being suspended for an illegal bowling action last September.

Spinning all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez - suspended in November last year also over an illegal bowling action -needs to clear a reassessment test to allow the right combination to Misbah.

"It will be important that Hafeez clears the test because he is two-in-one and his bowling gives us the right combination," said the captain.

Lanky paceman Mohammad Irfan - the tallest man to ever play international cricket at 7 feet, one inch - is expected to be the X-factor in an otherwise inexperienced pace attack which will miss Umar Gul, not fit enough for the event after knee and ankle problems.

"To me the X-factor in our team is Irfan. With his height I think he can be dangerous," said coach Waqar Younis, who missed Pakistan's World Cup win in 1992 with a back problem.


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