Pakistan’s chances at the World Cup will depend on the verdict reached against fast-bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, said former captain Imran Khan. Amir and Asif, along with former Test captain Salman Butt, face charges of spot-fixing during the England tour.
An International Cricket Council tribunal is due to hear the case in the Qatari capital of Doha from January 6.
“We must wait for the verdict on Amir and Asif,” said Imran.
“They are the best opening bowling pair in the world. We need to know about their future because if these two bowlers play, it gives Pakistan a good chance at the World Cup.
“Amir is the best young bowling talent in the world. I have seen him closely and I can say he is streets ahead of Wasim Akram.”
“Without these two bowlers, our attack is not potent.”
Imran, in New Delhi to promote the World Cup, backed Pakistan’s one-day captain Shahid Afridi to imbue the team with confidence.
“Pakistan are a very unpredictable side,” said the 58-year-old. “They will have to play out of the ordinary to make a mark at the World Cup.
“Afridi is the only player who can pull the team together. If he has a purple patch, he can carry the team with him.”
Imran, who led Pakistan to victory in the 1992 World Cup in Australia, said a team could succeed with only two star performers, provided the other players rallied around them.
Imran, regarded as one of cricket’s finest all-rounders, picked India and Sri Lanka as the pre-tournament favourites but warned teams to guard against the pressure and expectations from fans.
“In 1983, the West Indies were by far the best team, but they came under pressure from India in the final and lost the Cup.”
The World Cup is to be co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from February 17 next year.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2010.