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Pak fielders don't match rivals: Waqar

Associated Press
Mar 02, 2011 at 03:31pm IST

Colombo: Coach Waqar Younis has urged his players to sharpen their fielding skills as Pakistan prepares to take on Canada in Group A at the World Cup on Thursday.

"We've got to bring that culture that fielding is also the most important part in the game," Younis said on Wednesday. "We're getting there but (there's) still a long way to go."

Pakistan defeated co-host Sri Lanka by 11 runs last week but dropped at least three clear catches, wasted a number of run out opportunities and watched wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal twice fumble stumpings of captain Kumar Sangakkara.

Pak fielders don't match rivals: Waqar

Pakistan against Sri Lanka dropped three catches and wasted number of stumping opportunities.

"There's still a long way to go," Younis said. "If you look at other sides they are still far ahead of us like South Africa, Australia and the English team, they are definitely ahead of us."

However, Younis believes that young fielders like Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad are gradually helping to improve matters on the field with their athleticism.

"If you go back 10 or 20 years, we have come a long way and I think youngsters have started making a difference," he said.

Despite the shortcomings in the field, Pakistan has a maximum four points from its two matches. In every likelihood, it will field another strong playing XI against Canada — which has suffered two heavy defeats against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman sprained a muscle in his right leg during the narrow win over Sri Lanka and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal will probably get his first game in the tournament.

Pakistan batsmen have so far scored freely on typical subcontinental pitches, with experienced Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan scoring back to back half-centuries against Kenya and Sri Lanka.

Captain Shahid Afridi is top of the wicket-takers' list with nine scalps and his 5-16 against Kenya is Pakistan's best ever bowling figures at a World Cup.

Younis knows full well, though, that weaker teams have previously sprung surprises in the World Cup.

Pakistan lost to Ireland and made an early exit from the 2007 World Cup, while India was stunned by Bangladesh and also failed to advance in the same edition.

"In the past, World Cup teams have taken it easy and it costs you, so every team has to be taken seriously," he said. "The importance of the tournament makes everyone play to the best of their potential and that is what we are going to do."

Pakistan's players have meanwhile watched video footage of Canada's previous games, when Sri Lanka defeated the North Americans by 210 runs and Zimbabwe routed them by 175.

The team has not yet decided whether to give 35-year-old fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who played against Kenya and Sri Lanka, another outing.

"At this age, sometimes rest is not good because you want to get that rhythm and momentum going," Younis said.

"You don't want to take too long a rest because it is too hot and you need to be used to that, so I'm not sure at the moment."

If Akhtar is rested, Pakistan has an option of including either of the two leftarm fast bowlers — Wahab Riaz or uncapped Junaid Khan.

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