|Player:||BC Lara, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, Inzamam-ul-Haq, S Chanderpaul, CH Gayle|
|Event:||West Indies in Pakistan 2006/07|
DateLine: 10th November 2006
Brian Lara says the West Indies will try to cash in on Pakistan's loss of dope-tainted Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif as his team bid to win their first series here for a quarter-century.
"Our aim is to put pressure on Pakistan and they can crack under pressure with two of their key bowlers absent," captain Lara said ahead of the first Test starting here from Saturday.
The West Indies are making their first tour of Pakistan for nine years and last won a Test series in Pakistan in 1980. But their recent one-day form and Pakistan's depleted bowling attack raise their hopes of an upset.
On November 1 a Pakistani tribunal banned leading fast bowler Akhtar for two years and new ball partner Asif for one year after both tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.
Their appeals against the bans will be reviewed next week.
Lara, whose side have won just one of their last 14 Tests, warned his team need to be at their best.
"Pakistan has done well recently and it would be great to pull off a series win after so many years, but to do that we will have to be at our best," said Lara, who along with Shivnarine Chanderpaul is the only West Indian to have toured Pakistan before.
Both were part of the West Indies last tour in 1997 when Pakistan whitewashed them them 3-0.
Pakistan beat the West Indies 2-0 at the neutral venue of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates in 2002 after West Indies refused to tour Pakistan because of post-September 11 security fears.
Lara was confident his side would switch well to Test mode after recent one-day successes. They finished runners-up to Australia in a tri-series in Malaysia and again in the Champions Trophy held in India.
"I hope the confidence gained in the one-day arena will be transformed to Tests and this is very important series for us before the World Cup," said the 37-year-old master batsman from Trinidad, who holds the record highest Test score of 400.
Lara said dashing opener Chris Gayle and Chanderpaul have recovered from stomach bugs which forced them to miss the two-day tour opener which ended here in a draw on Thursday.
Allrounder Dwayne Bravo hit a brilliant hundred but other key batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan managed just 29 and Lara did not bat at all.
"I am getting along well and am running without any discomfort," said Lara, who suffered lower back problems recently.
Lara said the Gaddafi stadium pitch would deteriorate and would be low and slow, which might help the spinners.
Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq agreed that Pakistan's run-up to the series had been difficult.
"The situation for us has not been ideal, we have lost two key bowlers and a lot has happened recently but I know if we play good cricket we can win," said Inzamam, who missed Champions Trophy due to a four-match ban.
Inzamam, who will also miss the first of five one-day matches against the tourists which follows the Tests, was banned for bringing the game into disrepute in August's Oval Test against Engalnd.
"I am happy that I am playing now and hope I do well to help my team win," said Inzamam.
He dismissed speculation this would be his last home series.
"I want to play for my whole life but this is not possible. As long as I am fit and playing well I will continue."
The Pakistan captain was hopeful the Lahore pitch would turn.
"It is a good track and I hope it will take spin after the third day," said Inzamam, who will look to leg-spinner Danish Kaneria to fill the void left by Akhtar and Asif.
The second Test will be played at Multan (November 19-23) and the third in Karachi (November 27-December 1).
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)