Karachi: The current Pakistan cricket team has had the "worst" possible preparation for the World Cup but is still capable of lifting the trophy if it manages to stay united through the mega-event, feels the country's 1992 World Cup winning captain Imran Khan.
"The team had the worst preparation for the World Cup but it is all a matter of some players putting up their hands and performing consistently in the tournament and the team clicking and gelling together after a good start and anything can happen," Imran said when asked about the team's chances in the event starting on February 19.
But Imran said the team management and the captain need to be very clear about how they approach the tournament.
"My mind is clear and my planning is clear, the specialist players can win you matches so play them at the top. The top three or four batsmen should all be specialists and you can't have 'pinch hitters' coming in at the top even on the sub-continental pitches," the former captain said.
Imran feels the responsibility lies primarily with seniors such as Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq as far as batting is concerned.
"They have to play central roles in every match. The team management must focus their plans and strategy for every game around them. Because the World Cup is all about pressure and once you lose quick, wickets it becomes difficult for the incoming batsmen to handle the pressure," he said.
The cricketer-turned-politician also felt that it was wrong for critics and pundits to describe captain Shahid Afridi as a batting all-rounder.
"I don't consider him a batting all-rounder. To me he is a very energetic captain on the field a very good stock bowler and brilliant fielder. His batting is a bonus. We should not depend on it, we should consider his captaincy, bowling and fielding as his main assets," he explained.
"He has all the batting talent in the world but he lacks management while batting and that has always been his weakness."
Imran said there were a number of players in the team who were not doing justice to their talent.
"Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal, Afridi and even Abdul Razzaq are examples, they have immense batting abilities but don't manage their innings well," he said.
Imran also felt that Afridi should never have left playing Test cricket last year.
"If he had decided to fight on and not left the Test captaincy he would have been a much better captain today.
Because Test cricket is the real cricket and if as a captain you can learn to deal with the pressures of Test cricket then captaining in ODIs become much easier."