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Pakistan gear up for Kenya challenge

While this will be Pakistan's first match, Kenya lost their opening game to New Zealand.

Trevor Chesterfield |February 22, 2011, 9:52 PM IST
Pakistan gear up for Kenya challenge

Hambantota: As can be expected, Pakistan are eager to shrug of their latest controversy label. Former captain Waqar Younis now the coach and his sidekick captain, Shahid Afridi, say they have moved on.

No one likes the image of course. Their 2007 World Cup record and its legacy is bad enough. Eliminated in the first cut-throat round by Ireland, they lost their coach Bob Woolmer as well in suspicious circumstances.

There are still denials about his demise, and understandably, his family want to put it all behind them. Four years on it is still a harbinger Pakistan need to face along with players who have records with body enhancing drugs and tales of how to get rich though spotfixing.

For Kenya, shuttled in from Chennai after a fearful hiding by New Zealand in their first game, it is not an outing where they will feel any comfort. Jimmy Kamande, a re-invented spinner, put a brave face on it again when he faced a curious media and suggested there would be a 100 per cent improvement against Pakistan.

"It is hard switching venues and hard on the players to adjust as it is a young side. Yes, we were nervous against New Zealand," he said. "It was their bowling and our inexperience which in part let us down.

"We have to learn from that game and at least play like we know we can and offer a bigger challenge to a side which we know from experience is always competitive," he added.

Kenya in 2011 is not the Kenya of 2003 and living on past memories is a matter of drawing on the legacy of that side reaching the semi-finals through boycotts by England (playing Zimbabwe in Harare) and New Zealand (Kenya in Nairobi). It cannot be forgotten either how Kenya played and beat Sri Lanka in 2003. They were well prepared for the game and took their chances.

For the sake of the image of the associates, Kenya need to shake the dust off the Chennai defeat and think ahead.

Pakistan come into the event with an easy enough game before their bigger challenge on Saturday where they meet Sri Lanka at the reshaped Premadasa Stadium. They need to get this game against Kenya behind them, which for reasons of their own peace of mind, they will be anxious to display the sort of form which helped them beat New Zealand 3-2 (a series Waqar admitted they were lucky to win and not tie).

Reflecting on the past few months, he acknowledged it has been far from easy fore the team. They have lost three players and injuries have not helped.

"We have been through some tough times in the recent past," he said. "What it does not mean is that we don't have talent that it does not mean we are not good enough. I feel we are a very good team to beat any team on a given day.

"I don't think anybody is now dwelling on past matters such as match-fixing or spotfixing. It has happened and it is behind us. It is why we are looking forward to playing in this tournament. To us it is a huge tournament.

"I think the big games and real start will be after the quarter-finals as we are looking to play in those. But before that, you have to make sure that you take the momentum forward and take the rhythm with it. Once you are in quarter-finals, it's a different ball game," he agreed to a question.

"We have faced so many controversies in the past. Some days are harder than others, but we know the motivation is there trying to wake them up everyday, every morning and make sure that we keep delivering the goods is important.

"Younis Khan is in good form, Umar Akmal is a youngster who will do probably well in this tournament, we have a lot of hopes for Wahab Riaz and have a good mix of pace and spin. All we need to do is click and click at the right time," Waqar commented.

"We know Sri Lanka are a tough opponent and when it comes to Kenya we need to be very cautious. Minnows as they are can be dangerous on a given day. So we have to make sure that we deliver up continuously in every play.

"Afridi did a tremendous job in New Zealand that's why he has been given captaincy. He is getting better every day. He is doing a wonderful job and hopefully he will do a wonderful job in this series."

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5046 120
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 England 4366 104
4 South Africa 3177 102
5 Australia 3672 102
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10071 258
see more