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25 February 2024

'Spirit of Imran' to steer Pak to glory, says Akhtar

Khan leads the Tehreek-e-Insaf party in Pakistan. (GETTY IMAGES)

By Reuters

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq needs to adopt the uncompromising attitude Imran Khan employed in 1992 if the class of 2015 want to emulate that triumph at this year's World Cup, former pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar said.

Very few would have tipped Pakistan to win the showpiece event 23 years ago but Imran's young team fought back from imminent elimination in the opening round to defeat England in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"The Pakistan team is passing through a very difficult phase after having also lost Muhammad Hafeez. The onus is now on Misbah to set the tone with frontline performances," Shoaib told Geo News channel.

"Imran lifted a deflated side in 1992 to win the World Cup with some great frontline performances. I hope Misbah can do the same with this troubled side."

The talented but unpredictable side are not favourites this time either and their preparations have been hit by injuries to several bowlers, including all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez and paceman Junaid Khan, and the unavailability of leading spinner Saeed Ajmal due to an illegal bowling action.

Ajmal was cleared to bowl again on Sunday after passing biomechanic tests but having pulled out of Pakistan's World Cup squad in December, he can only be called into the squad if another player withdraws injured.

Former captain Muhammad Yousuf described Pakistan's plight as "a crisis situation" while Rashid Latif said the team was capable of going deep in the tournament if Misbah rallied his men together.

"There is still loads of talent in this squad and don’t write them off," Latif said.

"Misbah has to make the players believe they are still capable of beating anyone.”

Pakistan begin their World Cup campaign against arch-rivals and defending champions India in Adelaide on Saturday February 15.

The February 14-March 29 tournament is being held in Australia and New Zealand.