Mohd. Akram backs India, Sri Lanka as favourites to bag World Cup 2011 glory

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ISLAMABAD - Former Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Akram has tipped India and Sri Lanka as the topmost contenders to lift the coveted ICC World Cup 2011 trophy.

“India’s doing very well; they’re number 1 for me. One also cannot rule out Sri Lanka. I think that one of these Asian teams, India or Sri Lanka, will lift the title,” quoted Akram, as saying.

The mega event starts on February 19, with India playing Bangladesh in Mirpur. The final match will be played at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on April 2.

When asked to rate Pakistan’s chances at the tournament, Akram, a veteran of 9 Tests and 23 One-day Internationals, said he felt that it had a very strong chance to reach the semifinals.

“The way the Pakistan team played versus New Zealand in the recently concluded ODI series, I feel they have every chance to get to the semis. The conditions will suit Pakistan, and the way the boys have gelled together, they look good at the moment, especially since what happened in last year or so,” he said.

“They look like they want to prove a point to the world, and if not the final, they have every chance to make the semis,” he added.

When asked to predict Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar’s performance in the World Cup, Akram was cautiously optimistic.

“I’m not too sure about his fitness, although I wish him all the best. He will always give 100% and try to bowl quick. If he can play 5-6 games at the WC, I think he will make a big difference to the Pakistan team. He is Mr. 100%, and always gives his best,” he maintained

Resting Akhtar in WC matches against the lesser teams was suggested, but Akram quickly shot that idea down, saying: “He would be eager to play against them.”

“Shoaib will get more wickets and gain confidence. In my opinion, Shoaib Akhtar should play every game,” he added.

Pakistan begin their World Cup campaign on February 23 in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, where they play Kenya. (ANI)

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