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Page last updated at 22:22 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 23:22 UK

Younus hopes win will lift nation

Younus Khan (right)
Younus Khan (right) feels his team are well set to win the final

Pakistan captain Younus Khan believes winning the ICC World Twenty20 will provide a huge boost for trouble-torn Pakistan and its cricket supporters.

Pakistan booked their place in Sunday's final with a seven-run semi-final win over South Africa at Trent Bridge.

"We know it will give a big lift to everyone back home if we can win this competition," said Younus.

"We're suffering from everything at the moment in Pakistan, a lot of fighting, so the World Cup is everything for us."

Pakistan have blown hot and cold in England, losing their first match of the tournament to the hosts by 48 runs.

We wanted to finish on a successful note and we fell one game short

South Africa captain Graeme Smith

After that game, Younus dismissed Twenty20 cricket as "only a fun game" and "just for the fans".

But he was in a more serious mood after Thursday's win over previously unbeaten South Africa and feels Pakistan are peaking just at the right time.

"In Twenty20 cricket it is all about things coming together at the right time," said Younus.

"We have been slow starters in this competition but suddenly we are in the final.

"The plan for the final is to play our natural game and do well in bowling, batting and, especially, fielding.

"One more game and this World Cup is ours.

Younus was quick to pay tribute to all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who hit 51 and took 2-16 to take man-of-the-match honours in the semi-final.

"He is a match-winner. It's all about his commitment and the teamwork."

Afridi said: "The captain and the coach [Intikhab Alam] really gave me a good confidence. I asked them to send me in as number three and after that I enjoyed my batting. In the semi-final you don't have any more chances - this is good for Pakistani cricket."

Losing captain Graeme Smith gave credit to Pakistan for outplaying his much-fancied side.

South Africa have long been regarded as "chokers" on the big occasion, but Smith maintained: "The boys gave their best and they just came across a very good Pakistan team, particularly Afridi.

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"We gave 100% but we were just beaten on the day but I'm proud of the way the guys fought to the end.

"We have to keep learning and keep chugging on, we played some great cricket during our time here. We wanted to finish on a successful note and we fell one game short."

"It's not a case of the pressure, we were just beaten by a better team. It's sad and disappointing and I'm sure the people back home will feel the same."

Smith is to undergo surgery on his right elbow following his team's return home in the hope of curing a problem which has dogged him for much of the year.

He is expected to be out of action for eight to 10 weeks, but team management are hopeful that he will be available for the ICC Champions Trophy, which South Africa will host in September.



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see also
Afridi steers Pakistan into final
18 Jun 09 |  Cricket
South Africa v Pakistan photos
18 Jun 09 |  Cricket
S Africa beat India to top group
16 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Pakistan too strong for Ireland
15 Jun 09 |  Cricket
NZ claim 'disappoints' Pakistan
15 Jun 09 |  Pakistan
Gul heroics inspire Pakistan win
13 Jun 09 |  Cricket
South Africa see off West Indies
13 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka too strong for Pakistan
12 Jun 09 |  Cricket
South Africa crush sorry England
11 Jun 09 |  England


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