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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 18:28 GMT
Agnew's World Cup verdict - Pakistan
AustraliaSri LankaNew ZealandPakistanSouth AfricaEnglandEnglandIndia

By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Pakistan
Clearly the recent withdrawal of three players - and three of their best bowlers - in Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Abdul Razzaq will be a huge blow to Pakistan's hopes.

In the case of Shoaib and Asif, it maintains a cloud of suspicion regarding their taking of banned substances. We know they had tested positive for nandrolone last September, after all.

Shortly before they pulled out - without having submitted to the Pakistan Cricket Board's mandatory drugs test - something else happened.

The International Cricket Council announced it was going to step up their anti-doping measures throughout the tournament, and that was good to see.

Two of the replacements (Azhar Mahmood and Mohammad Sami) are experienced, the third (Yasir Arafat) less so.

Sami tends to be pretty expensive and you would have to say their bowling resources do look pretty limited now.

PAKISTAN: SEEDED 4
Inzamam-ul-Haq
Pakistan beat England in the 1992 World Cup final under Imran Khan's captaincy
Seven years later, they were thrashed by Australia in the final at Lord's
I do like Umar Gul, however, who is accurate and will do well on sluggish wickets, while the selection of specialist spinner Danish Kaneria shows the way people are thinking.

Slow bowling could be very important in the Caribbean.

There is going to be a lot of pressure on Pakistan's batsmen now and at least they do have three magnificent one-day players in Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan.

They are all outstandingly good at pacing their innings without seemingly taking risks.

Contrasting them, Imran Nazir goes out and plays his shots. That's fine - you want someone to do that. And if he comes off, he gets the bowlers panicking.

There is a bit of a worry with the wicket-keeper, Kamran Akmal. His standard of glovework has dropped and the runs aren't flowing either.

I have a feeling he is beginning to work his way back into form and actually think he'll have a decent tournament.

Pakistan kick off the whole tournament with a match against the hosts in Jamaica, which I think could be a terrific curtain-raiser.



SEE ALSO
Shoaib and Asif to miss World Cup
01 Mar 07 |  Pakistan
Pakistan - Players to watch
22 Feb 07 |  Pakistan
World Cup form guide - Pakistan
19 Feb 07 |  Cricket
How the World Cup evolved
15 Feb 07 |  International Teams
Cricket World Cup records
14 Feb 07 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2007 schedule
20 Jul 05 |  Cricket


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