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Malik promises inspired performance from Pakistan

Shoaib Malik promised on Thursday that his team will make up for the home defeat against South Africa and put up an inspired performance against India.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Lahore
UPDATED ON OCT 31, 2007 06:16 PM IST

Ahead of the high-voltage tour to India, Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik today vowed to make-up for the disappointing home series loss to South Africa by winning the series against their arch-rivals.

The Pakistan cricket squad leaves tomorrow for what is expected to be a highly charged and exciting tour of India with Malik promising an inspired performance from his players.

"We know people are disappointed at the way we lost the final one-dayer to South Africa and also the series. But we also know a repeat performance against India will not be acceptable to the people," Malik said a day before the scheduled departure from Lahore to Delhi.

Pakistan will play five ODIs and three Test matches with the first one-day international scheduled in Guwahati on November 5.

"We all felt bad at the way we had gifted the match to South Africa and we want to make amends in India," Malik said.

The young Pakistan captain assured he had played enough international cricket to be able to handle the pressures that comes with an Indian tour.

"I have played against India and been there before, so I know what it is all about. So I am not going to take any extra pressure on this tour. We had a brain storming session yesterday and we all know that whether we play India or any other team we have to give our best," he said.

Malik said he was disappointed at losing the home series to South Africa but dispelled the impression that his team, still trying to establish themselves in international cricket, could not handle the pressure in the big matches.

"Look we handled the pressure games in the Twenty20 World Cup. The final was a close affair and it could have gone either way," Malik said.

"Even against South Africa we came back to level the series 2-2 and controlled 90 percent of the game but lost because of irresponsible and poor cricket. I am confident my players can handle the pressure well in India."

Pakistan has picked a 16-member squad for the five one-day games in India. The squad include three openers, Imran Nazir, Salman Butt and Yasir Hameed with Shahid Afridi and Kamran Akmal also having opened against South Africa.

Malik conceded the form of openers would be the key to the performance in India.

"If the openers do well we have the depth in our middle and lower order to get big scores. I am counting that since the pitches are similar in Pakistan and India the openers will settle down quickly and get the runs."

Critics, however, remain sceptical pointing out that Nazir, Butt and Yasir have all failed in recent matches and they also question the necessity of taking three specialist openers to India for a five-match series when this job can be done by Afridi and Akmal.

Malik said if required even he was not shy of opening and would bat at any position for his team.

Younis Khan named vice-captain today for the tour said that in India bowlers and batsmen can both do well.

"They use the SG balls which grip well and help the pacers and spinners well while the pitches are good for the batsmen as well. Once you settle in you can get runs. So it should be an evenly contested series," Younis said.

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