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Younis Happy Pakistan Not Expected to Win World Cup

by AFP
Arif Ali—AFP

Arif Ali—AFP

Head coach claims being a favorite to win puts unnecessary pressure on the players.

Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis on Saturday said he was happy his team was not among the favorites to win next month’s World Cup, saying the tag often put unnecessary pressure on players.

Pakistan completed a short training camp for February-March World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand, in Lahore on Friday. Pakistan will play two one-day internationals against New Zealand on Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, before starting their World Cup campaign against India in Adelaide on Feb. 15.

“I am happy that we are not the favorites, to be very honest because it is a big pressure, being the favorites,” Waqar told media. “We were not the favorites last time either but we played excellent cricket and reached the semi-finals,” said Younis, who was head coach in Pakistan’s 2011 World Cup finish, losing to India in the semis.

Younis said four-time champions Australia and South Africa would stand a better chance. “Of course, teams which play on those bouncy wickets like Australia and South Africa are probably more the favorites than us. But … I have lots of hopes,” he said.

Younis admitted Pakistan had suffered injury problems, which had unsettled them. Frontline paceman Junaid Khan injured his leg during practice on Thursday but an MRI revealed he would be fit within a week.

“We had problems with our fast bowlers for few months and, of course, the recent episode with Junaid—it’s a setback. If you have injuries you can’t move forward.”

Younis, ruled out of the World Cup that Pakistan won in Australia and New Zealand in 1992 due to injury, admitted the mega event was never good for him. He was also captain of the team that crashed out in the first round in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

“The World Cup has never been that kind to me, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. He said he has hopes for strong play from captain Misbah-ul-Haq, an all-rounder who will retire after the World Cup.

“Of course Afridi is number one, we have big hopes for him and Misbah, they are going out after the World Cup. In the camp over the last four to five days I have seen both want to finish on a high, which is a very good sign,” he said.

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