Pakistan hopes hurt by captaincy confusion

Misbah-ul-Haq led from the front in Pakistan’s Test series triumph against New Zealand. (GETTY)

Former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq says Pakistan’s World Cup chances have been hampered by the board’s delay in naming a skipper for the tournament.      

“I fear the same fate as 2003 and 2007 for this team because just three weeks before the World Cup, the players don’t know who will lead them in such a big event,” Pakistan’s most-capped player told the Daily Jang newspaper on Monday.               
“I blame the cricket board for creating this crisis,” he added. “By not announcing the captain it has created two groups in the team.”         
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have announced their final World Cup squad but held back on naming a captain with all-rounder and one-day skipper Shahid Afridi vying for the role with Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq.  
“They are two groups in the team: the Shahid Afridi group and the Misbah group, and in these circumstances it is unnatural to expect this team to perform well,” Inzamam added. 
The veteran of 120 Tests and 388 one-dayers said the board would be committing suicide by changing the captain so close to the World Cup starting on February 19 and co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.       
“There is already uncertainty in the team and this will only create more friction and problems,” he added.           
“If they don’t perform in the World Cup some players will be made scapegoats as usual when it is the board which is to blame for the crisis.”     
The 40-year-old former batsman was captain at the last World Cup in the Caribbean when Pakistan were shocked by minnows Ireland and exited in the first round.  
In the 2003 World Cup, Pakistan were also knocked out in the group stages with Inzamam scoring just 19 runs in six innings.               
Former captain Javed Miandad, however, advised the players to just focus on cricket.  
“We have a good one-day combination which can do well in the World Cup but the players first need to adopt a more professional approach,” Miandad told Reuters, adding that they should avoid making unnecessary statements to the media. 
“They must learn from someone like (India batting great) Sachin Tendulkar. He has scored so many runs and hundreds but you hardly ever hear him making any claims in the media. He performs like a professional.”        
Miandad and Inzamam were members of Pakistan’s victorious 1992 World Cup squad.  
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