Karachi: Former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Sunday advised Pakistan bowlers to be aggressive and go for wickets in their group matches against South Africa and India to remain in contention for a knock-out berth in the ongoing Champions Trophy in the UK.
"Both teams (South Africa and India) have strong batting line-ups, so our bowlers should not be thinking of containing them but about getting wickets. South Africa is struggling with injuries to their top pace bowlers. Pakistan must try to take advantage of this," Akhtar said.
Pakistan have to beat South Africa tomorrow to stay in contention for a semifinal spot after they lost a close encounter to the West Indies. They play India in their final group match on June 15. He felt that Junaid Khan needed to step up his game as he was the key to Pakistan's success.
"Junaid would be the most effective bowler on the English tracks and he has to exploit the conditions. Against the West Indies, Muhammad Irfan made an impact. England is a great place to make an impact. I remember I bowled well in 1999 World Cup and then progressed rapidly after that," he said.
Akhtar said captain Misbah-ul-Haq should use spinners Saeed Ajmal and Muhammad Hafeez soon if the pacers don't get breakthroughs quickly. The controversial pacer said that no matter how many coaches are attached with the national team, the players can only help themselves by working hard at individual level.
"I have always believed that the players can help themselves by undrgoing hard practice and working on their weaknesses specially the batsmen," he said.
Akhtar said he was not surprised by Pakistan's batting collapse against the West Indies as it had always disappointed in big matches.
"It was no different against the West Indies. That is why I say coaches can't help us players have to work themselves. Our former greats like Javed Miandad or Muhammad Yousuf do practice for hours on their game," he stated.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has appointed a foreign head coach in Dav Whatmore, fielding coach Julian Fountain and batting coach Trent Woodhill with the team.
Akhtar said that Pakistani batsmen will need to apply themselves and play according to the pitches in England to be successful.
"Misbah did that against the West Indies and Nasir Jamshed was also impressive but he played a poor shot to get out after doing all the hardwork."
He said leaving out flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi for the tournament was a mistake as he remained a dangerous lower-order player.
"I think if he had been there he would have taken away the match from the West Indies."
He also felt that young middle-order batsman Umar Amin should be tried against South Africa.