Pakistan thrive on chaos
Captain Younis Khan believes the persistent turmoil surrounding Pakistan will inspire them to victory in their ICC Champions Trophy clash with New Zealand in Mohali.
The 2004 semi-finalists lost skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq to suspension before Shaharyar Khan vacated the chairman’s seat at the Pakistan Cricket Board, all in the wake of the Brit Oval ball-tampering episode.
Their bowling attack was decimated by a doping scandal involving Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, and the camp was split last week by claims by new PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf that the team should not pray in public.
But Younis - deputising for Inzamam, who was banned for bringing the game into disrepute - insists the perennial ordeals have toughened Pakistan’s resolve.
And he claims his side can repeat last Tuesday’s four-wicket demolition of Sri Lanka against the Black Caps.
A fired-up Younis said: “We can’t wait to get back on the field. It was a good win over Sri Lanka which proved that we play our best cricket when things are not going in our favour.
“We can’t afford to relax. Beating Sri Lanka will be of no use if we lose our remaining two matches.
“Each game is like a semi-final just to get into the semi-finals.”
New Zealand, meanwhile, face problems of their own going into their final Group B tie.
Defeat would spell the end of their campaign to regain the title they won in 2000, having followed up their opening win against South Africa with a seven-wicket loss to Sri Lanka.
Furthermore, it would sully captain Stephen Fleming’s feat of becoming the most experienced one-day international skipper in history.
Wednesday’s game will represent the 194th time the 33-year-old has led his country, beating the mark set by Sri Lankan Arjuna Ranatunga.
But Fleming is more concerned by the lack of consistency his side are showing with the bat.
Totals of 195 against South Africa and 165 against Sri Lanka are the lowest scored by the Black Caps when batting first since May 2003.
And Fleming, who has paceman Shane Bond and all-rounder Scott Styris available for selection after injury, has called on his team to develop better partnerships to stop the rot.
He said: “To achieve a good total you need partnerships, and you need big scores, not just band-aid scores of 42 and 45.”