Karachi, March 13 (IANS) Former Pakistan cricket captain Ramiz Raja has predicted that an Asian team will win the 2011 World Cup.
“There was a time when Asian teams didn’t have the sort of quality that was needed to go all the way, especially in a major event like the World Cup. There was also a time when they couldn’t really cope with pressure,” Ramiz told Life Illustrated.
“But now, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka do not lack in those areas. Even Bangladesh are an improved lot.
“Their rankings tell the story. India are the top-ranked team while Sri Lanka are at number two. Pakistan, too, are steadily improving.”
Bangladesh have dethroned the West Indies for the number eight spot. The momentum has certainly swung towards Asia.
“But the main thing is that the Asian teams have the home advantage. They will have a ball on their favourite hunting grounds in the knockout stages.”
India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are almost sure of reaching the quarterfinals while Bangladesh have also catapulted itself into serious contention for a last-eight berth after beating England in Chittagong earlier this week.
Ramiz is expecting Pakistan to do well but has advised the team to get its act together. He believes Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi remains the team’s key player.
“For Pakistan Shahid Afridi is the key player. As a captain he has to motivate the players. World Cup is a great test for any team because you are bound to lose a few matches. It’s up to the captain how he keeps his players focused.”
Pakistan is generally regarded as an unpredictable bunch but Ramiz views it as their strength.
“I’ve felt it time and again that teams including the top ones are generally scared of Pakistan. They are afraid of Pakistan’s potential and their unpredictability. Pakistan should capitalise on this factor. It could be their strength.”