After being denied the right to host the 2011 World Cup, the Pakistan team now seeks to lift the title as recompense as the event’s trophy was unveiled in Lahore.
Initially named as co-hosts besides India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Pakistan – awarded 14 matches – lost the right following the attack on the Sri Lankans in Lahore. The unveiling ceremony was attended by sponsors and players of the national cricket team including Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Gul, Misbahul Haq, Azhar Ali and team manager Intikhab Alam.
However, despite none of the matches being played in the country, Pakistan still retains its hosting fee of $10.5 million and additional compensation for the loss of hosting rights.
“It is really disappointing that Pakistan is not hosting the World Cup but we can cover this loss by playing good cricket in the event,” said Alam.
“Pakistan has batsmen and bowlers with great potential who can turn things around at any time. And if our match-winners stay fit throughout the event, we can beat any team in the world.”
Pakistan has been playing its home matches at neutral venues since last year and recently played their home series against South Africa in the UAE.
“As a manager, especially on the recent tour of the UAE against South Africa, I saw that the main difference between a host team and the touring team is only the level of fitness,” said Alam who feels that playing matches on home soil would have been a plus point for the team, but it was not concerning as conditions in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka were not diverse from Pakistan.
Alam added that Pakistan’s upcoming New Zealand tour will be a tough one and would be the only assignment that is left before the team takes on the World Cup.
“The New Zealand tour will be our last assignment that will help us prepare for the World Cup and I don’t see any difficulty for our team to play under the subcontinental conditions. Though we have lost the home advantage, the conditions in three other countries are similar to our country so it will be our plus point.”
Pakistan Test captain Misbahul Haq echoed the team manager’s views and said, “The World Cup in the subcontinent will be an exciting one.
“And Pakistan’s upcoming New Zealand tour will be helpful for team’s preparation for the world. We have a lot of players with great ability, both in batting and bowling and I am hopeful we can lift the trophy.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2010.