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Asian teams face tough challenge this time:Sohail

Former Pakistan captain Aamir Sohail believes the Twenty20 format is quickly evolving and the Asian teams can’t take things for granted any more as sides like Australia and South Africa have started to take the shortest version of the game seriously.

cricket Updated: Apr 30, 2010 21:10 IST

Former Pakistan captain Aamir Sohail believes the Twenty20 format is quickly evolving and the Asian teams can’t take things for granted any more as sides like Australia and South Africa have started to take the shortest version of the game seriously.

In his column for the newly-launched infot20.com, Aamir wrote on Friday that technically-sound cricketers are now likely to shine during the April 30-May 16 World Twenty20 championship in the Caribbean.

"I think that unlike the last two Twenty20 World Cups, Asian teams - Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka - will find the going tough against teams like Australia and South Africa. The previous two finals were all-Asian affairs but it could be a different story this time.

"I think Australia and South Africa will do much better this time. The Aussies have restructured their Twenty20 team and seem determined to win this elusive title. Same is the case with the South Africans. Asian teams will have to take their game to the next level to maintain their supremacy in this popular spectacle.

"The format is evolving and slowly only technically sound players will be successful in it," he stressed.

Aamir believes that defending the title will be a tough task for Pakistan.

"As a Pakistani, it’s pretty natural that I will be supporting Shahid Afridi and will hope that our men in green bring the Cup home once again. But as a cricket expert, I would want to make it clear that it is going to be a very tough task," he said.

"Personally, I think that there are five teams -- Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Australia and South Africa -- with realistic chances of winning the World Cup. To some extent, the West Indies are also there and being the hosts will be fancying their chances of lifting the trophy in Barbados on May 16. But the five I’ve mentioned are more or less similar teams when it comes to Twenty20 cricket. Much will depend on how they utilize their players.

"If you single out Pakistan, I must say that we certainly have the players, who have the potential to be match-winners in the Twenty20 format. But we will need some careful planning. You can’t just rely on the big-hitting in Twenty20 Internationals any more. Things have changed now. Slowly but surely, tactically sound cricketers will overshadow the more adventurous players even in the shortest format. I won’t be surprised to see players like Jacques Kallis, whom South Africa dropped in the inaugural event, to shine in the Caribbean."

Aamir urged Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi to read the conditions well.

"To Shahid Afridi, my advice is that you will have to read the conditions properly because that will be the most important aspect."