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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 February, 2003, 15:48 GMT
Bring on the Aussies
Richard Pybus
By Richard Pybus
Pakistan coach

The mood in the Pakistan camp is good and we are raring to get our World Cup campaign started against Australia.

We have got a very talented side, with a lot of individual brilliance both in batting and bowling, but we have also been trying to make sure we do our basic disciplines very well.

The defeat in our final warm-up game against Easterns last week was disappointing.

The track had some variable bounce and Saeed Anwar had already been hit on the elbow prior to that in the nets.

What happened against Australia in the 1999 World Cup final is history

I think a few of the boys were a bit worried that we might lose another player and they lost their focus.

But we have moved past that now and the guys are all focused on Australia.

Michael Bevan is a doubtful selection and Darren Lehmann definitely cannot play, so that weakens their middle order.

We are going to be looking to pick up early wickets and put them under pressure.

We have done a lot of work on our fielding and this has got to be one of the fittest sides Pakistan has ever put out.

Sarfraz Nawaz is entitled to his opinions but I don't know where he forms them.

I don't know that he has had any contact with the boys in the last six months. They have been on the road for that time and trained exceptionally hard.

We have not played any competitive cricket since we left South Africa at the beginning of January, so we need to hit the ground running.

What happened against Australia in the 1999 World Cup final is history - we have just got to focus on this game.

It was only in June that Shoaib Akhtar ripped out Australia in two one-day matches.

Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram relax at the Wanderers
Akhtar (left) could trouble the Australian batsmen
They have also got to be concerned about us and they know that when we are playing quality cricket, we are one of the most dangerous sides in the world.

Shoaib has got the ability to finish a match on his own. He can bowl incredibly quick and if he starts to get the ball to reverse he can be a real handful.

I am sure the Australians will be conscious of that, and of the fact that the Wanderers track generally has a little bit of bounce.

This is the first time in quite a while that Pakistan has been able to put out a full-strength squad.

We have got most of our main strength available to us now and this is a very different team to the one we had in South Africa.

Saeed has batted the last couple of days in the nets. It is great to have him with a bat back in his hand but I do not want to pre-empt selection.

Every side that enters the World Cup is here to win it, and I think there are about six or seven teams who could be in with a shout.

We are a quality outfit and we have got to make sure we play consistent cricket throughout the tournament.

The best sides in the world can be beaten and there have been many times when sides went on to win unexpectedly - including Pakistan.





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