Pakistan’s Akhtar: Australia easier to beat now

A fit Shoaib Akhtar said on Wednesday that Pakistan can beat Australia in next month’s limited overs series, predicting the world champions are less of a threat than in the past.

”Australia are now much eaiser to beat than before and if we play our best we can beat them in the series,” Akhtar told AFP.

”We have a very good chance of beating them.”

Pakistan plays Australia in five one-dayers and a Twenty20 match in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from April 22 to May 7.

Akhtar said Australia had lost some key players, which had weakened them.

”They are still the world’s top team, which they proved by avenging their defeat against South Africa,” he said of Australia’s 2-1 series win over South Africa this week.

”But they still miss the likes of [Adam] Gilchrist, [Matthew] Hayden, [Glenn] McGrath and [Shane] Warne who were top-class players. If even one of them came to the party, it spelt doom for the rival team.

”Australia now doesn’t have as many quality players as in the past. They were beaten by South Africa in the one-day series in Australia and judging by their strength in one-dayers I think we can beat them.”

Akhtar added that he always wanted to do well against Australia.

”I have great admiration for the Australian team, so it’s natural that I want to do well against them. I did that, especially in the 1999 World Cup and we beat them in a one-day series in 2002 but that’s not enough.”

The 33-year-old paceman is again on the comeback trail after injuring his knee last month, which forced him out of Pakistan’s two-match Test series against Sri Lanka.

He also missed the third and final one-day internationals against Sri Lanka in January after managing just one wicket in the first two matches.

Since recovering, Akhtar has featured in two domestic matches and hopes that selectors include him in the squad.

”I have been working very hard and gearing up to play against Australia. I will play more domestic matches so that I can prove my fitness to the selectors and the rest is with them,” he said.

”I am feeling better and have bowled 20 overs in the two matches. So I will be up to my full fitness and rhythm when we play Australia.” — Sapa-AFP

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Shahid Hashmi
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