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08 May 2002 00:00
PAKISTAN skipper Waqar Younis believes his side will be recognised as the world’s best by the end of this year.
On the eve of the second Test against New Zealand, Waqar said he believes his squad are now good enough to beat the current top dogs in world cricket, Australia and South Africa.
“We would like to wrap up the series and prove that we are the best team in the world after our home series against Australia in October this year and then a series in South Africa,” Waqar told reporters here on the eve of the second Test against New Zealand.
Led by an awesome 329 by Inzamam-ul Haq, Pakistan downed the Black Caps by an innings and 324 runs in the first Test at Lahore last week after their one-day series triumph by 3-0.
“People do try to demean our recent victories by saying that we have beaten Bangladesh, West Indies and New Zealand but (we) would also beat Australia and South Africa,” said Waqar.
Fortunes changed dramatically for Younis when he came in from the sidelines to be handed Pakistan’s captaincy in April last year.
“I have learnt a lot and am satisfied with whatever results we have achieved; the only thing is to improve our consistency and record on home grounds,” he said.
Pakistan has not won a home series since whitewashing the West Indies in 1997-98 and has lost six of their last seven home series since losing to Sri Lanka in 1995-96.
England recorded their first series win in Pakistan for 38 years when they won 1-0 in 2000-2001, the last series played in Pakistan.
Pakistan have since beaten minnows Bangladesh at home last year and lost their Asian Test champions title to Sri Lanka in March this year.
“We want to make our own people happy who have been disappointed with our home series losses and it would mean a lot to us,” he said.
Experienced opener Saeed Anwar returns to the Pakistan squad after being sidelined since November last year due to a wrist injury.
The 33-year-old opener who is now a devout Muslim with a long beard is likely to replace Shahid Afridi in the final eleven to be announced Wednesday.
“Anwar looks good in the nets and hopefully he would get runs. Shoaib Akhtar is also improving from an ankle injury but a final decision on him would be taken before the match starts,” Waqar said.
Injury-plagued New Zealand lost leg-spinner Brooke Walker with a dislocated finger in the left hand and he is likely to be replaced by all-rounder Scott Styris.
All-rounder Andre Adams, who helped New Zealand square the home series against England 1-1 two months back has also returned home after suffering a back injury.
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