India, Australia biggest threat in Champions Trophy: Pak coach

Intikhab Alam restrained from predicting Pakistan's prospect in the CT, but admitted that India and Australia are going to be the biggest threats for them.

updated: August 29, 2009 07:23 IST
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Coach Intikhab Alam restrained from predicting Pakistan's prospect in the ICC Champions Trophy, but admitted that India and Australia are going to be the biggest threats for Younis Khan's men.

"I would not like to make any claim or prediction because there is nothing much to separate the eight teams taking part in the tournament," Alam said on Saturday.

"I can say this much we are perfectly capable of winning the title like we did the Twenty20 World Cup in England. But our first priority should simply be to focus on winning group matches and qualifying for the semi-final," he said.

Alam, who is also a former cricketer, pointed out that Pakistan has been handed a tough pool in the eight-nation tournament commencing in South Africa from September 22.

"India has a dangerous ODI side with a winning mentality and they have quality players as well. Australia is the world champion, but yes, losing the Ashes would surely have some impact on them during the tournament," he said.

Alam feels that Champions Trophy would be a difficult task for the Pakistan cricketers as well.

"They (supporters) always have too much expectations from the team and people tend to forget that other teams are also playing to win. But only what I can say is if we play to our full potential and have some luck, we are capable of winning the tournament," he said.

Alam felt that current squad was a balanced and strong one and the youngsters like Fawad Alam, Muhammad Aamer, Umar Akmal have to handle responsibilities to make the team play quality cricket.

He also defended the inclusion of pace bowler Muhammad Asif into the squad saying, "Critics who were saying his selection was premature after his 16 month lay-off from the sport, forgot he had a splendid record in South Africa.

"I think Asif's selection is perfect for the conditions in South Africa and he has always performed well there. His performance and form would be a key for us in the tournament." He also caste aside the speculation that there is any row between skipper Younis Khan and him.

"There are some people spreading such rumours and trying to create discord in the team. I have good working relationship with Younis and we get along well. We understand each other's style of working and in the end we both want the team to do well. So where is the problem?" he asked.

Alam also pointed out that the Pakistan Cricket Board had clearly defined the areas of jurisdiction for the captain and coach. "So there is no reason for us to clash or have any differences," he said.

"Pakistani players would attend a 10-day conditioning camp from September 1-10 to prepare for the Champions Trophy and there would be no exception for anyone because of the month of fasting," Alam added.