Pakistan declare upper-hand for tri-series crunch match
by AFP

Ground:Western Australia Cricket Association Ground, Perth
Scorecard:Pakistan v West Indies
Player:Inzamam-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Naved-ul-Hasan, BC Lara
Event:VB Series 2004/05

DateLine: 31st January 2005


Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq believes his team have the upper-hand in their final make or break tri-series match against the West Indies Tuesday because of their now considerable experience on the tricky Western Australian Cricket Association Ground wicket.


Pakistan defeated the previously unbeaten Australians at the Perth ground on Sunday, giving them a huge psychological boost for the match that will decide which team plays the host nation in the series finals starting on Friday.


"Definitely we have the advantage because we have played one Test match and (played in Perth for) for 15 or 16 days before that," Inzamam said.


"This track is totally different and the West Indies are playing for the first time here."


Pakistan kicked off their Australian tour in Perth at the end of November, spending almost a month here as they played two tour matches prior to a losing four-day match against the Western Australian state team.


They also played the first Test against Australia on the notoriously lively WACA wicket, losing by 491 runs.


But Inzamam and his players said they were boosted by their breakthrough three-wicket tri-series win over Australia on Sunday.


"This win has definitely helped us for the coming games. Hopefully we will play the final and we will win," he said.


Pakistan's victory was marred by some serious fielding blunders which saw a string of clear catching chances go begging, but Inzamam said he hoped the problems would be sorted.


"I think the ground fielding is OK but we dropped some catches and this is our weak area and we will really try to work hard on this and hopefully get it OK for the finals," he said.


Inzamam agreed that in-form West Indian captain and champion batsman Brian Lara presented a major hurdle after he belted 156 off 138 balls against Pakistan in Adelaide last Friday.


But he said Pakistan's bowling had improved against Australia and Lara would need to be on top of his game with medium-pace bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and allrounder Abdul Razzaq showing better form.


"I think he realizes the bowling was not good in the last game," he said.


"I think especially Rana and Razzaq -- they have worked hard in the nets and they are good here."


Razzaq, who was named Man of the Match after taking 4-53 and making an unbeaten 63 against Australia, said Pakistan was missing injured pacemen Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami.


"But in one-day cricket one or two bowlers or one or two batsmen don't win the match," he said.


For his part Lara conceded Pakistan may have the advantage but pointed out there were plenty of players within the Windies squad, including himself, who had played at the WACA ground before.


"We've got some batsmen that have played here and we know exactly what the track is doing," he said.


"It is more a mental game ... than the physical side and who has had more experience at the WACA."


He said the team had watched Pakistan's win against Australia and were impressed with the performance, believing both they and the West Indies were closing the gap on the world champions.


But he said Pakistan would also be tired after a long and largely unsuccessful tour.


"What I am worried about with Pakistan is that they are going to be playing three games in five days," he said.


"Hopefully that can play on their mind and we will have a tired bunch."


The West Indies also have concerns over the fitness of left-arm swing bowler Pedro Collins, who has been their most potent weapon on tour, and batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan.


Collins strained thigh muscles during the win over Pakistan on Friday while Sarwan was hit on the right elbow by a rising delivery, suffering extensive bruising.


Lara himself is also still nursing a painful wrist injury and batted one-handed in the nets during training on Monday, although he is expected to be fit to play.


"Constant use is only going to make it worse," he said.


"I've been in the nets and I'll get some treatment this evening and be fine."


Both teams will name their sides on Tuesday.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)


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