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I am happy that we are not the favorites: Waqar Younis

LAHORE: Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis on Saturday said he was happy his team were not among the favourites to win next month’s World Cup, saying the tag often put unnecessary pressure on players.

Pakistan completed a short training camp for February-March World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand, in Lahore on Friday.

Pakistan will play two one-day internationals against New Zealand on January 31 and February 3, before starting their World Cup campaign against arch-rivals India in Adelaide on February 15.

“I am happy that we are not the favourites, to be very honest because it is a big pressure, being the favourites,” Waqar told media.

“We were not the favourites last time either but we played excellent cricket and reached the semi-finals,” said Waqar, who was head coach in Pakistan’s 2011 World Cup finish, losing to India in the semis.

Waqar said four-time champions Australia and South Africa would stand a better chance.

“Of course, teams which play on those bouncy wickets like Australia and South Africa are probably more the favourites than us. But… I have lots of hopes,” he said.

Waqar admitted Pakistan had suffered injury problems which had unsettled them.

Frontline paceman Junaid Khan injured his leg during practice on Thursday but an MRI revealed he will be fit within a week.

“We had problems with our fast bowlers for few months and, of course, the recent episode with Junaid — it’s a setback. If you have injuries you can’t move forward.”

Waqar, ruled out of the World Cup which Pakistan won in Australia and New Zealand in 1992 due to injury, admitted the mega event was never good for him.

He was also captain of the team which crashed out in the first round in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

“The World Cup has never been that kind to me, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

Waqar said he has hopes for strong play from captain Misbah-ul Haq, an all-rounder who will retire after the World Cup.

“Of course Afridi is number one, we have big hopes for him and Misbah, they are going out after the World Cup.

“In the camp over the last four to five days I have seen both want to finish on a high, which is a very good sign,” he said.-AFP

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