Tight matches put life into World Cup

EXPERT COMMENT - The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 has come alive with some very close contests that we witnessed during this week. As we head into the later-half of the group stages, the action will only get more exciting. Saturday was primed to be another day of thrilling cricket as Australia and Sri Lanka came face-to-face in Colombo. We were in a very similar situation during the 1987 ICC World Cup where we played all our matches at home. Imran Khan, our skipper at that time, told us to completely avoid social get-togethers since wherever we went, the only topic of discussion was whether we will be able to win the tournament. This added a lot of pressure on us.

I feel the same thing is happening with the Lankans. Hence when they have come out for this crunch game against the Aussies, Kumar Sangakkara and company needs to relax and enjoy the atmosphere more. The square at the R Premadasa stadium has three pitches. The middle-strip is most conducive for spinners. Ricky Ponting has three excellent pacers in his arsenal. The troika of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait are more than a handful even on a slow surface. It is not easy to get runs against them. So the batsmen will need to come up with a plan to counter the fast bowlers.

I don't understand why the Pakistan team-management is reluctant to use Omar Gul with the new ball.

I thought Gul was excellent Thursday night in the absence of Shoaib Akthar. Despite bowling with good pace, he was very accurate and got the ball to swing appreciably." Against Canada , it was an ideal platform for Razzaq to come good. Around 10 to 12 overs were left when he came in to bat. He should have taken some time to get his eye in before going for the big shots. If he stays at the wicket for any length of time, he will get runs. To me, he is the key player for Pakistan in this tournament.