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Fleming full of praise for 'new' Pakistan

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming has heaped praise on the Pakistan side leading up to the third one-dayer of their series on Saturday.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2004 17:58 IST

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming has heaped praise on the Pakistan side leading up to the third one-day international of their five-match series on Saturday.

Fleming, who led New Zealand the last time Pakistan toured three years ago, said the current squad was much more unified than the bitterly-divided team of 2001 and had a more measured approach to the game.

The teams are locked at 1-1 in the five-match competition, with New Zealand winning the first game in Auckland by four wickets and Pakistan easily taking the second match in Queenstown by six wickets with three overs to spare.

"We were given a valuable lesson in one-day batting in Queenstown and our guys have taken on board just how Imran (Farhat) and Yousuf Youhana worked us around," Fleming said.

"That was something that was unusual for Pakistan -- taking the quick singles and really working a team over. We've learnt from that and hopefully we can put it into practice tomorrow."

Imran (87) and Youhana (88 not out) produced a third wicket partnership of 143 in Pakistan's quest to pass 235 in Queenstown.

SHOAIB'S RETURN

With the expected return from a groin injury of paceman Shoaib Akhtar, Fleming said his presence provided an additional challenge for his team.

"We like to play against the best, even if he does bowl at 155 kmh. We've got to be on our game and as we've seen from Shoaib in the past, in the one-day game he can be expensive. But he is a world class fast bowler" Fleming said.

"With him in the side Pakistan are a very powerful side and they are well led from the sidelines by (coach) Javed (Miandad)."

Shoaib was taking a full part in Pakistan's practice session on Friday and Miandad said he hoped the player would be fit. The coach did concede, however, that a decision to play was the bowler's alone.

Fleming said he was hoping for more from his experienced core of players, like Chris Cairns and Craig McMillan, who had yet to deliver in the series.

While not naming anyone in particular, the skipper said the experienced players had to drive the team and drive the game.

"These players need to respond," Fleming said.

"They've won games for New Zealand in the past and we need to see some action. We don't expect them all to fire at once, but fire they must at some stage."

Fleming said the problem with the team in the two matches to date had been the poor batting starts, which both times have been rescued by the lower order.

First Published: Jan 09, 2004 10:42 IST