Rashid Latif calls for Yousufs inclusion

KARACHI (Agencies) - Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif feels selectors have made a mistake by leaving out experienced batsman M Yousuf from the 15-man squad for the World Cup starting February 19. "The squad is balanced, but I feel selectors have made a mistake by leaving out M Yousuf. I would have chosen Yousuf ahead of Sohail Tanvir," Latif was quoted as saying. Latif, who will be seen as the Afghanistan coach in the World Cup starting February 19, also feels that the delay in naming the captain will create a disharmony in the team. "The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) doesn't want Shahid Afridi to lead the team. Afridi has fallen out with his team-mates and the board is waiting to see the results of the New Zealand series. I still feel that Afridi is the best man to lead Pakistan in the World Cup. But if the board wants Misbah ul Haq as the skipper, then they should have appointed him earlier. It reflects the sorry state of affairs in Pakistan cricket," latif said. Despite the controversies, Latif feels that Pakistan cannot be written off. "Pakistan cannot be written off as the format suits them. They are a team, who on their day are capable of beating anyone. The knockout stage is where Pakistan could excel. Two good performances in the knockout stage and Pakistan could find themselves in the final," he said. "England and South Africa are chokers and I would expect them to fall in the knockout stages of the tournament, whereas the likes of Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India are much better in the knockout stages of major tournaments. Pakistan have throughout their history raised their game for one-off knockout matches and I feel this tournament will be no different." Latif said that some of the big names in the team will have to raise their game and picked Umar Akmal as the player to watch out for. "The World Cup is a time for heroes to be made. Pakistan's strongest World Cup squad was undoubtedly the 1999 World Cup squad which lost in the final to Australia. Pakistan played their best World Cup under Wasim Akram in 1999." "Umar can show once again that he is one of the best players in the Pakistan team at the moment. He is not being allowed to play his natural game. He should be allowed to play his natural attacking game," Latif said. The former wicketkeeper, however, is doubtful about veteran all-rounder Abdul Razzaq's role in the side. "Saeed Ajmal will be a key performer, but I have concerns over Abdul Razzaq at the moment though as his role in the side is not clear. He's not completing 10 overs, so he should therefore be played as a batting all-rounder, instead of a bowling all-rounder. His role in the team is confusing me." Pakistan are in Group A alongside Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya. Pakistan open their campaign against Kenya at Hambantota, Sri Lanka, February 23.

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