Pakistan/Australia possibly the most explosive clash of the tournament
Courtesy Cricinfo.com :
"Champions ripe for the picking say Pakistan
Will Swanton - 10 February 2003
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 10 AAP - Pakistan believes Australia is ripe for the picking in tomorrow's potentially explosive World Cup cricket match at the Wanderers because of a batting lineup missing Michael Bevan and Darren Lehmann.Pakistan coach Richard Pybus claimed his Jekyll-and-Hyde side was bubbling with confidence and keen to make a statement as Australia prepared to tackle Pakistan's potent pace attack with only five specialist batsmen.
"Our boys are looking forward to this match because they are sure they have a great opportunity," said Pybus tonight.
"There is a lot of history between the two countries and there are a couple of scores to settle. If we take early wickets it will place enormous pressure on them because of the situation with Lehmann and Michael Bevan. The key for Australia is the top order and we will be going hard at them with our fast bowlers.Our focus is going to be on that top order and it is going to be a fascinating battle. "
"Both teams like to play it tough. Australia know about us. They know that when we are hot we are very hot, when we hit our straps we can take out anybody."
Australia's top six became a top five when Bevan (groin) failed a fitness test, joining Lehmann (suspended) on the sidelines. Australia only selected one reserve batsman, Jimmy Maher, so the Cup favourites were left a specialist batsman short for the clash against Pakistan's fast-bowling royalty: Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. Pybus said Maher and Australia's latest allrounder, Brad Hogg, were unproven at World Cup and would be tested.
"It (World Cup) is a totally different stage," he said. "I've seen a little bit of Jimmy - there is a lot of responsibility on him now. He's a linchpin there in that middle order and we will be putting a little bit of pressure on him.Brad Hogg, he's been doing well, he's a competitive sort of player, but it's always interesting to see how players accommodate themselves in big tournaments like this."
Shoaib, Waqar and wicketkeepr Rashid Latif have done their best in the lead-up to ruffle Australian feathers. Shoaib vowed to dismiss Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting, and claimed Brett Lee was no match-winner.Waqar claimed Australia was panicking about having to play Pakistan and then Rashid said the defending champions had dropped the trophy by leaving Test skipper Steve Waugh at home.
But Australian skipper Ponting wasn't buying into a pre-match war of words. "He can say whatever he likes," Ponting said of Waqar.
"I'm not too worried about whatever they say. "We haven't spoken about it and we won't speak about it.As soon as we start worrying about what they're talking about we're taking our eye off what we have to do.We've been in South Africa just going about our business. We've had our fair share of success against them in the past and I hope that doesn't change. We've got three of the best fast bowlers in the world, the best leg spinner in the world and a bloke who has done particularly well in the last few games bowling left arm wrist spin."
"Our bowling line-up is good and we're pretty sure our batting line-up can do the job".Ponting admitted Shoaib, timed at a world record 161kph in a one-dayer against New Zealand last year, would be a handful."They seem to get the ball to swing quicker than most other sides," Ponting said.
"You just have to have a smaller back lift and eliminate your big shots and try and get through those dangerous spells.As we've seen in one-day cricket and Test cricket he (Shoaib) can still take three or four or five wickets in a hurry and destroy your innings so you've just got to get through those tough periods."
"We know he's a very dangerous bowler ... but most of our guys have had success against him and have got game plans worked out to combat his speed."
Wasim, 37, who has 490 one-day international wickets, is playing his fifth and last World Cup and commands respect. "I have always enjoyed taking on challenges," he said. "Australia has always been a very competitive team and I always enjoy playing and performing against them. I just can't wait for Tuesday's game and although it would not be a grudge match, we would certainly like to start the tournament on a winning note.
"We need to start with a bang ... we are ambitious and motivated enough to win the tournament."
Ponting said the first hour would be crucial.
"If you let them get away early they're a very good side, very good front runners."
Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (c), Adam Gilchrist (vc), Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Jimmy Maher, Brad Hogg, Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds, Ian Harvey, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath, Andy Bichel.
Pakistan (from): Waqar Younis (c), Shahid Afridi, Saeed Anwar, Saleem Elahi, Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Rashid Latif, Azhar Mahmood, Saqlain Mushtaq, Abdur Razzaq, Mohammad Sami, Shoaib Akhtar, Taufeeq Umar, Wasim Akram, Yousuf Youhana.
© 2003 AAP Newswire "
I must admitt, I haven't seen the Pakistani's especially Waqar rant that much but what the heck ? just makes for a good build up.