Pakistan and India are favorites to win next month’s World Twenty20 tournament, as both have shown good form in the rapid-fire version of the game, Pakistan’s stand-in captain Misbah-ul-Haq said.
“Both Pakistan and India have been doing very well in Twenty20 cricket, so I think both have a very good chance of winning the World Twenty20,” Misbah said after Pakistan’s seven-wicket win over Australia on Thursday.
Pakistan, led by Misbah after regular captain Younus Khan pulled out with a fever, rode on a career-best 4-8 by paceman Umar Gul and leg-spinner Shahid Afridi (3-14) to dismiss Australia for a low score of 108.
In reply, Kamran Akmal hit a fiery 59 to help Pakistan reach their target with 3.5 overs to spare — an emphatic win that Misbah said would lift his team’s spirits ahead of the World Twenty20 starting in England next month.
“I think this win is an indicator of where we stand,” said Misbah, who scored 24 and added 85 for the third wicket with Akmal. “This win will be a great morale booster for the team,” which lost the preceding one-day series 3-2.
Misbah said he believed Pakistan’s domestic Twenty20 championship had helped to build the team.
“We have been playing a Twenty20 tournament every year and that has matured us. Fortunately, we are again playing that event in Pakistan before going to England,” Misbah said.
Besides India and Pakistan, Misbah also fancied the chances of South Africa and New Zealand in next month’s tournament.
“Any team can win a Twenty20 game but you need discipline and luck. I think South Africa and New Zealand are also two very good teams,” he said.
Australia’s stand-in captain Brad Haddin said he hoped his team’s defeat on Thursday would not demoralize them.
“You can’t judge the form of the team on one game,” said Haddin, who replaced Michael Clarke as captain after Clarke returned home for a rest.
“We were progressing well in the first five overs but then we lost track and were totally outplayed by Pakistan,” he said.
“But I hope it’s not going to affect us as we have some 20-25 days to prepare,” for the Twenty20 tournament, Haddin said.
■INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE
The Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings both had wins in the Indian Premier League on Thursday to sit tied atop the standings on 11 points.
Rajasthan continued their revival by beating the Bangalore Royal Challengers by seven wickets, while Chennai beat the Kings XI Punjab by 12 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-affected match.