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Pakistan looking to settle scores

The Pakistan cricket team, led by Shoaib Malik, arrived in Delhi on Thursday evening to a rousing reception at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Addressing a press conference later, the newly-appointed captain and Australian coach Geoff Lawson declared that the team wants to settle a few scores in India.

“Our defeat in the Twenty20 World Cup final is history and we are here to play a new series,” Malik said, while Lawson added that Pakistan would try to avenge the Twenty20 World Cup final defeat against India.

“We lost the final of Twenty20 World Cup to India, so we have some scores to settle,” he said. Asked what went wrong in the final overs in the Twenty20 World Cup final, Malik replied: “Twenty20 defeat in the final of the World Cup is history. That chapter is closed.”

Malik was effusive in his praise of the India’s batting, but singled out Yuvraj Singh, saying, “The manner in which he is playing is simply superb.”

He disclosed that there would be no replacement for fast bowler Asif, who had to opt out of the team because of arm injury.

“He will rejoin the team the moment his injury is heals,” he added. He and Lawson felt Shoiab Akhtar’s return to the team will strengthen the bowling attack but expressed hope that the controversial fast bowler, who is back in the side after a 13-match ban for indiscipline, would make himself more useful.

Talking about the problem of young captains, like him and his counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni, handling senior cricketers, Malik left Dhoni to fend for himself, saying he is comfortable the seniors in h is team.

“I have played with Shoaibbhai (Akhtar), (Mohammad) Yousuf and Younis (Khan) for a long time and we get along well. They have been very good to me and co-operated a lot. So I don’t see it as a problem.”

Asked whether India-Pakistan series are losing interest because of their frequency, Malik replied: “I don’t think so. The more we play, the better it is for us. Indo-Pak series is always very exciting and it’s a gentleman’s game. So the more it is, the better it is.”

He expressed happiness that the Pakistanis would not have to face former India captain Rahul Dravid as the latter has been dropped from the Indian squad for the first two ODIs.

He praised left-arm seamer R P Singh, saying, “He has emerged as an extraordinary bowler. His line, length and pace, everything has improved. He looks a different bowler altogether since we last played against him. Anyway, we have a plan in place to disturb his rhythm.”

Lawson stood by Misbah-ul Haq and Shahid Afridi and dismissed talk that both were out to reckless shots that cost Pakistan the Twenty20 World Cup final and recent series against South Africa.

Well, without Misbah, we would not have reached the final of the Twenty20 World Cup in the first place. And Afridi, well, you know what kind of player he is. It’s not that they play reckless shot only. They have done something outstanding to reach from where they played those shots.”

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