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Pakistan unscathed by T20 warm-up defeats, says coach

cricket Updated: Jun 05, 2009 18:39 IST

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Pakistan's two morale-sapping losses in practice matches will count for little once the action starts in the World Twenty20, coach Intikhab Alam said on Friday.

Finalists in the inaugural event two years ago, Pakistan crashed to a 59-run defeat against South Africa in their first warm-up match, before arch-rivals India crushed them by nine wickets two days later.

"What happened in those two matches will not matter once the real thing starts," Alam told AFP from London where Pakistan take on hosts England in their first match on Sunday.

"We may be slow starters but there is a lot of talent in the team that gives me confidence we will do well.

"We tried a lot of new things and new combinations in the two matches to get the mix right for the tournament, so the results there don't matter."

The Netherlands, whom Pakistan play on Tuesday, are the third team in group B from where two will advance to the Super Eights round.

"England have the advantage of playing at home and I don't want us to take the Dutch likely," said Alam.

"We can't afford to blink even one moment. The boys know they have to be on their toes all the time."

Alam, 67, a former Pakistan leg-spinner and Test captain who played for many years for Surrey in English county cricket, said he expected spinners to play an important role in the tournament.

"It will seam a bit but the slow bowlers can go a long way in restricting the run-rate," he said. "We have ensured we have a good mix of seamers and spinners to choose from."

One interesting selection is 31-year-old Saeed Ajmal, who was reported for a suspect action while bowling the 'doosra' -- the off-spinner's version of a googly -- during the recent one-day series against Australia.

Independent tests cleared Ajmal's action two weeks ago, and Alam believed the off-spinner could play a crucial role in shaping Pakistan's fortunes.

"It is wrong to think spinners have no role in Twenty20 cricket," the coach said. "They take wickets, they are economical, what else can one want from a bowler."