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Pakistan want to do it for Akhtar

Rashid Latif said Thursday his team was keen to win the triangular one-day series final against New Zealand here for disgraced fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

india Updated: May 22, 2003 16:01 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Pakistani skipper Rashid Latif said Thursday his team was keen to win the triangular one-day series final against New Zealand here for disgraced fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

"We are determined to win and want to dedicate our victory to Akhtar," Latif said ahead of Friday' final.

Ace Pakistani paceman Akhtar, 27, was suspended for two one-dayers and fined 75 per cent of his match-fee on Wednesday for tampering with the ball during the concluding league match against New Zealand here.

He became only the second bowler in the world after compatriot Waqar Younis to be banned for ball-tampering.

Younis served a one-match suspension during a triangular series, also featuring South Africa and Sri Lanka, at Colombo in 2000.

Latif said the team's morale was high despite Akhtar's absence against more experienced opponents.

"His absence has made the team more determined. All of us support him and the team spirit is high," said Latif, who is hoping to complete a double after winning a four-nation tournament in Sharjah last month.

He said it was "bad luck" for Pakistan that Akhtar was unavailable just when he appeared to have regained his best form.

"He bowled really fast in this tournament, especially in the last league game against New Zealand (on Tuesday)," said Latif.

"He is a match-winning bowler and has shown the same old devastating form in this series. We had better chances of winning the final if he was available."

Akhtar looked impressive in all the four matches here as he often unsettled the New Zealand and Sri Lankan batsmen with his pace and accuracy to finish with seven wickets.

He has so far bagged 140 wickets in 85 one-day internationals.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said he did not believe that his team's chances had considerably improved in Akhtar's absence because they were also missing key fast bowler Shane Bond.

Bond returned home due to a back injury after having played just two matches.

"Both the teams now have even chances," said Fleming, eyeing a rare away triumph.

New Zealand's only overseas victory came three years ago when they whipped India in the final of the ICC Trophy one-day tournament at Nairobi.

"Pressure will be the key thing in the final. Pakistan are a young talented side, but we are confident of a good showing as we have experienced players," said Fleming.

The New Zealand captain was looking forward to an impressive performance from his batsmen, saying a total of "200-210" would be defendable on these tracks.

Pakistan planned to make two changes in their team for the final, including debutant opener Faisal Athar and fast bowler Shabbir Ahmed in place of Taufeeq Umar and Akhtar.

"Umar has been out of form in this series, so we plan to include Athar," said Latif.

Pakistan (from): Rashid Latif (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Faisal Athar, Yasir Hameed, Yousuf Youhana, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Sami, Shabbir Ahmed, Danish Kaneria, Faisal Iqbal, Taufeeq Umar, Umar Gul.

New Zealand (from): Stephen Fleming (capt), Chris Nevin, Lou Vincent, Scott Styris, Chris Cairns, Chris Harris, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori, Daryl Tuffey, Paul Wiseman, Andre Adams, Matthew Horne.

Umpires: Daryl Harper (AUS) and Asoka de Silva (SRI)

TV umpire: Gamini Silva (SRI)

Match-referee: Gundappa Viswanath (IND)

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First Published: May 22, 2003 15:54 IST