New Delhi: Praising Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan for playing the role of senior players to perfection in the match against Sri Lanka, fast bowling great Wasim Akram said the Pakistan team need to rally around the experienced duo if they are to do well further in the World Cup.
Younis and Misbah struck half-centuries to help Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 11 runs in their second group match on Saturday.
"It really heartens me to see the senior boys doing their jobs. Younus is an intelligent man and so is Misbah. Both have played a lot of ODIs and if Pakistan have to roll on, then this pair has to hold the innings together, every day.
"They did this against the Lankans and the way they kept the scoreboard ticking, underlined their pots of experience. The entire team has to rally around Misbah and Younus. They are the elder statesmen of a team that has a lot of raw but extremely talented youngsters. Afridi must give the seniors their space and respect they deserve," Akram wrote in his column for espnstar.com.
The highest wicket taker for Pakistan in One-day cricket, Akram also praised Shahid Afridi for good captaincy.
"Afridi is showing signs of maturity. His decision to bring back Akhtar when Mahela Jayawardene was batting was a top move. In my book, Akhtar cleaning up Jayawardene with a gem of ball that nipped back was the turning point of the match. For, if Jayawardene survived, Sri Lanka would have had a great chance to chase and win," he wrote.
However, Akram was not happy with performance of stumper Kamran Akmal and paceman Umar Gul.
"Kamran Akmal's wicket-keeping was very shabby and that denied the young spinner Abdur Rehman a couple of much-needed wickets. Surely, the team management will be speaking to Akmal. These errors can prove costly in big games."
"Pakistan's strike bowler Umar Gul has been disappointing. He is not showing his experience and Gul did not vary his pace for once at Premadasa. Gul's poor showing so far may open the door for Wahab Riaz," he felt.
Pakistan take on minnows Canada on March 3 in their next Group A match.