Inzamam's improved focus offers warning to West Indies

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The Independent Online

Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, yesterday warned the West Indies that he has become a better batsman since taking over the captaincy of the team.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, yesterday warned the West Indies that he has become a better batsman since taking over the captaincy of the team.

Pakistan's recent revival, under the leadership of Inzamam and the new coach, Bob Woolmer, has taken them to today's Champions' Trophy semi-final against Brian Lara's team at Southampton's Rose Bowl.

Some new international captains, including England's Michael Vaughan, have found their batting form adversely affected, but Inzamam insists that the effect on him has been the opposite. "I think I've concentrated more and that's helped my batting and I take more responsibility," he said.

Woolmer only took over in June, but he has no doubt about the influence the captain has had on a side who always had the talented players but sometimes left themselves open to criticism regarding their approach to the game. "The attitude since I've been in charge has been fantastic," he said. "The guys have always worked very hard. They have been led by a very good leader in Inzamam and they have shown him a lot of respect. If he leads from the front the team will always work very hard. It's a very good team spirit."

Pakistan's three-wicket victory over India in the Group C decider at Edgbaston showed how the hard work has paid off and Woolmer is aware of the need for his players to maintain focus. "After games like that there is a tendency to go off the boil so we will have to heat them up again. These players have the ethic of trying to get better every day and I think they will be well tuned in for this match."

Yousuf Youhana, who suffered cramp and needed a runner as he contributed a crucial 81 not out to the win over India, is fit, but Pakistan will not finalise their side until this morning.

Lara would dearly love to end a disappointing summer on a high to restore the team's confidence. "It has been a very long summer, and we suffered a lot during the Test series [against England]," he said. "We got to the final of the NatWest Series, and it will be really nice if we can get one stage further, although we know we are up against tough opposition."

West Indies (from): B C Lara (capt), W W Hinds, C H Gayle, R R Sarwan, S Chanderpaul, D J J Bravo, R L Powell, C O Browne (wkt), C D Collymore, M Dillon, I D R Bradshaw, D J G Sammy, R O Hinds.

Pakistan: Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Yasir Hameed, Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik, Yousuf Youhana, Abdul Razzaq, Moin Khan (wkt), Shahid Afridi, Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammed Sami, Shoaib Akhtar, Younis Khan.

Umpires: D Hair (Aus) and S Taufel (Aus).

Third umpire: D Shepherd (Eng).

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