Pakistan eager for action

Younis Khan

Younis Khan is Pakistan's new skipper

Pakistan will aim to put all off-field matters to one side when they open their ICC Champions Trophy campaign against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

Bob Woolmer’s men come into the clash in complete disarray following Monday’s revelation that fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif had been sent home for failing tests for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone.

This comes a week after the farcical rejection, and then acceptance, of the captaincy by Younis Khan, himself only in the running after regular skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq was banned for four games after taking his team off the pitch in The Oval Test against England in August.

It may seem a storyline more suited to Bollywood but the reality is the team have an important match to play on Tuesday.

Younis Khan

Pakistan captain Younis Khan

“Yes it is obvious that when your key players are forced out it is a shock, but we just have to get on and play well, putting all else out of our mind,” Khan told Indian station NDTV.

Woolmer added: “When you are in a hurricane it is pretty stormy and we are in a bit of a hurricane now, but we will get through that.

“We will be sitting down with the team this evening and will chat it through.

“I'm pretty confident that the team will take any adversity in their stride and they'll rise to the occasion and play good cricket (on Tuesday).

“We have to put these issues behind us, as we have with all the other issues and get on with playing cricket, because that's our job, that's what we're paid to do and that's what we have to do.

“We'll make it very clear that we're going to go out there and fight very hard. It's very important for us to try and gain two points against Sri Lanka.”

In contrast to Pakistan’s problems, the Sri Lankans come into the clash in perfect shape.

The team qualified for the main draw as the best-placed qualifier, winning all three of their matches in style, the last of which came on Saturday, when they thrashed the West Indies by nine wickets.

Captain Mahela Jayawardene is wary of facing a wounded side, however.

He said: “At times when teams have such problems they come hard at you, and we have played Pakistan quite a few times to realise that.

"I don't know the whole extent of the events, but it's disappointing.

“We haven't played against Shoaib for quite some time because he was injured.

“We wanted to take that challenge and see how we can come about it. So from a cricketing point of view, it's bit disappointing.”

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