LONDON // The state of turmoil that Pakistan cricket inhabits was given its daily fix yesterday when Abdul Qadir, their chief selector, stepped down in the wake of their World Twenty20 humbling by England. The former leg-spin great was in charge for just six months, yet had already grown weary of the unseemly machinations at the top of the game in Pakistan.
The 48-run defeat to a resurgent England side at the Oval on Sunday evening was believed to have been the final straw for Qadir, who had reportedly fallen out with the chairman of the cricket board, Ijaz Butt. The news had little visible effect on the mood of the Pakistan players as it filtered through just before training at Lord's yesterday afternoon. They were in fine spirits during their warm-up game of handball, and the ensuing net session.
Pakistan's players are working on the calculation that they must beat the Dutch by 25 runs or more if they are to advance to the Super Eight stage today. If they bat second, they need to chase whatever the Netherlands make within 16.5 overs. There are likely to be hefty ramifications if they fail to advance to the second phase of a world competition for the second time running, even though the captain Younus Khan, feels 20-over cricket is "just about fun".
Younus said: "We'll have to do it because if we don't we will be out of the competition. Hopefully the senior guys will come forward and do a job for our team - it's the only chance we have. "It wouldn't be disastrous for Pakistan if we went out - it's international cricket, but it is only a fun game. "It will be sad for us if we are not in the Super Eights but it's not a disaster. Twenty20 cricket is all about entertaining the crowd - it's all about fun."
After laying to rest the ghost of their opening night Dutch horror-show with a victory over Pakistan, England's captain Paul Collingwood was hit with a tricky question. Who were the best team they had played so far in the competition? He had a choice of two, yet he squirmed and agonised more uneasily than he would have done had he been next in to face Fidel Edwards at his nastiest. "What a question," he said, as he shifted in his seat. "I suppose I would have to say Pakistan."
The Dutch will get the chance to prove him wrong tonight when they return to Lord's. Jeroen Smits, the Netherlands captain, is sure his side can improve on their heroic display against England. "Batting-wise I think we played to our capabilities [against England]," he said. "Fielding and bowling-wise I think there is room for improvement. We played OK against England, and we are looking forward to Pakistan.
"The momentum up front is on our side. We know Pakistan's players like to play their shots up front, and against England we proved we do have quality bowlers up front." Tom de Grooth, who won the man-of-the-match award for his 49 against England, is not ruling out another fairytale. He said: "We believe in everything right now. We never say never, hopefully we can bring our game again and cause another upset."
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