Pakistan still have big dreams

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LAHORE: The Cricket World Cup 2011 trophy was unveiled here Thursday at Royal Palm Golf Club in a ceremony attended by Pakistan players and sponsors.
The trophy was first unveiled at the International Cricket Council head office in Dubai and is now doing a round of the host countries before reaching India, where the final of the mega event will be played. Pakistan was stripped of its hosting rights in April 2009 by the ICC, which cited the ‘uncertain security situation’ in the country as the reason. The decision had been taken after the Sri Lankan team, which was touring Pakistan, came under attack in Lahore.
Pakistan was paid nearly $10.5 million as compensation for the loss of hosting rights. The unveiling ceremony on Thursday was attended by sponsors and players of the national cricket team, including Pakistan manager Intikhab Alam, Abdul Razzaq, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Gul, Taufiq Umar and Test captain Misbahul Haq.
Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan national players expressed their optimism about their performance in the tournament.
Razzaq said that with the current combination and form of the team, Pakistan could win the World Cup. Pakistan Test captain Misbahul Haq said that although the World Cup was not being held in Pakistan, but the conditions in the other three countries would be the same as in Pakistan and hopefully things would go well for the Pakistan team.
Out of the 14 matches Pakistan was due to host, eight have been moved to India, four to Sri Lanka and two to Bangladesh. The final will be played in Mumbai.
Pakistan will be playing its matches in Sri Lanka and will move to India only to play the semi-final and the final. Pakistan manager Intikhab Alam said that although Pakistan was no longer hosting the World Cup matches but he was confident the team will win the title.
Alam, also a former captain, praised the ICC and sponsors Pepsi for arranging for the trophy to be displayed in Pakistan.
“It was a great gesture on the part of the ICC and sponsors to arrange a trophy tour to Pakistan… which will raise interest,” said Alam.
“I am happy with the progress of the team and, hopefully, we will do our best to win the trophy,” said Alam, who was a coach-cum-manager in 1992 when Pakistan won its only World Cup title.
Pakistan, placed in Group A, will play their first round matches in Sri Lanka. They open their campaign against Kenya at Hambantota on February 23.