Play with ‘fire’ to beat Aussies, says Wasim

COLOMBO: Pakistan great Wasim Akram, the last captain to beat Australia in a World Cup match, says teams need a plan and “fire in the belly” to end the side’s long run of success at the World Cup.

Australia, who play Group A rivals Sri Lanka on Saturday, have not lost a match at the showpiece tournament since going down to Pakistan at Leeds in 1999, and have stretched their unbeaten run to 31 matches.

The have won their past 25 World Cup matches since the tied semi-final against South Africa in the tournament held in England 12 years ago.

“You need a plan in the mind and fire in the belly to beat Australia,” Wasim told AFP. “Have a set plan and your body language should be like that of champions.”

Wasim, who took 4-40 in the 1999 win against Australia, said Pakistan’s body language was worthy of winners as they downed Steve Waugh’s men by 10 runs.

“We had a successful run in the group stages and I remember we planned well for the Australia match, but sadly we lost the final when it mattered the most for the World Cup title and the Australians were better,” said Wasim.

Pakistan lost a one-sided final at Lord’s by eight wickets after being dismissed for just 132.

Wasim said the toss would be important on a slow pitch in Colombo, where the co-hosts are planning to play all three of their spinners – Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath.

“What I have noticed at R. Premadasa stadium is that the toss is crucial, so winning the toss will be crucial for Sri Lanka, even if they were planning to play three spinners,” said Wasim.

“It will once again be difficult to chase for teams at the ground.”

Wasim said Australia, with three quality pacemen in Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson, look strong.

“Australia are still a force and with their three fast bowlers bowling over 145 kmh (90 mph), it’s going to be difficult for teams scoring runs against them and keeping wickets in hand,” said Wasim.

Wasim, who took 414 Test and 502 one-day international wickets, praised Pakistan’s performances.

“The way Pakistan are playing, it would be tough to beat them. I think Shahid Afridi is leading the side well, the sort of unity required for Pakistan team is brought by Afridi and it’s good for them,” said Wasim.

Afridi, who has 14 wickets in the tournament as a leg-break bowler, has led Pakistan to three wins out of three and they top Group A with six points.