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Pakistan keen to maintain momentum

Pakistan would go all out to prove that they have made rapid strides towards regaining top form.
PTI | By Ashish Shukla (PTI), Amstelveen (the Netherlands)
UPDATED ON AUG 28, 2004 02:31 PM IST

Pakistan would go all out to prove that they have indeed made rapid strides towards regaining top form when they take on world champions Australia in the final of the cricket tri-series on Saturday, weather permitting.

Rains have played havoc with all the three league matches of what was billed to be a lead-up tournament to the ICC Champions Trophy, starting in a fortnight's time in England, and it remains to be seen if the weather gods relent to allow a full game on Saturday.

The weather has been clear for the past 48 hours but the scene can change any minute in Amstelveen.

India, the third side, would watch the action from the sidelines, after their opening game defeat to Pakistan and subsequent rain abandoned match against Australia, when the two teams fight for supremacy at the picturesque VRA ground.

Pakistan have been a vastly improved and determined side since Bob Woolmer's induction as a coach and it is reflected in their upward graph of the last two months. They beat arch-rivals India in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and in the current series, and would be determined to stretch their winning streak against the Aussies.

If Pakistan are able to hold their ground against Australia, it would mean a great deal to a largely young side which has relied on the likes of captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, his deputy Yousuf Youhana, wicket-keeper Moin Khan and paceman Shoaib Akhtar to push the cart forward in the tough terrain of world cricket.

It will not be long before the batting lynchpins Inzamam and Youhana find their moorings. In Shahid Afridi and Abdur Razzaq, the side has two cracker-of-a-batsman who can belt the ball many a miles.

Pakistan's bowling has also acquired a new discipline and humility in recent weeks and the best example has been superstar Shoaib Akhtar who did not mind ploughing in as first change against India, not letting his personal ego and reputation come in the way of team's good.

Australia, if anything, would be better than they were against India in the game which was aborted at the halfway stage on Monday. They now have an idea how to bat on this pitch where the ball arrives ever so slowly and then it also affords wicked turn.

They are unlikely to bat as poorly as they did against India and the likes of Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting, not to forget Damien Martyn and Darren Lehmann, are professional enough to adjust to the conditions.

They have a good four-pronged pace attack in Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz and Glenn McGrath even though one of them is bound to be rested and unorthodox wrist spinner Brad Hogg given a chance.

Indians would be waiting for the ordeal to get over so that they can fly over to England for the NatWest Challenge and the Champions Trophy.

Australia (from): Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Darren Lehmann, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz, Glenn McGrath and Brad Haddin.

Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yasir Hameed, Imran Farhat, Yousuf Youhana, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Moin Khan, Shoaib Akhtar, Abdur Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Sami and Shabbir Ahmed.

Umpires: Steve Bucknor (WI) and David Shepherd (ENG).

Third Umpire: Jeremy Lloyds (ENG).

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