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Team is missing Aamir, says PCB chief

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt is extremely pleased with Pakistan’s show in the World Cup but said the team is missing banned paceman Mohammad Aamir. Aamir was handed a lengthy ban along with Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif for their involvement in spot-fixing last year on the tour of England. Pakistan have lost just one league match en route to the semifinals. “Our team has done well without three top players, Aamir, Asif and Salman but I still feel the team misses Aamir’s presence because of his excellent cricketing abilities,” Ijaz told the Pakistani media on Tuesday before crossing the Wagah border to travel to Mohali to watch the World Cup semifinal against India.

“But I don’t want to demoralize anyone and there is no doubt the other bowlers have done their best for the team.” Ijaz said there was no doubt that the Indo-Pak semifinal was the biggest match of the showpiece event. “There is no doubt that this is the big match of the tournament no matter who wins. I think the International Cricket Council (ICC) could not have hoped for a better or greater advertisement for the tournament and the sport than this semifinal.” The PCB chief said he was pretty confident that the team would do well in the semifinal despite the pressures and hype surrounding the match. “There is no question that if the team wins this match and qualifies for the final they will be amply rewarded by the board and even the government. But we don’t want to make any premature announcements let the match be played first,” Ijaz said. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has already announced that he would gift land to each player if Pakistan wins the semifinal against India.

Ijaz said he was extremely satisfied to see the team qualify for the semifinal. “Given the tough times we have gone through since the last two years I think the team have already done us proud by coming this far. It has shown to the world what Pakistan cricket is all about and the talent we possess.” The PCB chief is expected to meet ICC president Sharad Pawar and other Indian board officials on the sidelines of the ICC meetings in Mumbai and during the final later this weekend to discuss the revival of bilateral Indo-Pak cricket ties.