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The Electronic Telegraph Warm-up match: Derbyshire v Pakistan
Neil Hallam at Derby - 8 May 1999

Pakistan show they mean business

Any temptation to regard the current Pakistan side as first and foremost a war games club or gambling ring and only second a force to be reckoned with on the world stage does not long persist when they set about their business on the field.

Politics and personal antipathies may rarely lie far below the surface and allegations of match-rigging remain unresolved, but there was no evidence of anything but the keenest purpose from them yesterday as they began their World Cup preparations with a rain-affected draw against a below-strength Derbyshire side.

Ijaz Ahmed and Salim Malik dominated their innings of 272 for eight with a fourth-wicket stand worth 113 in 20 overs after Pakistan won the toss and took first use of a sluggish pitch.

Derbyshire were soon in trouble at 37 for two as Wasim Akram dismissed Adrian Rollins and Tim Tweats with consecutive deliveries. When rain returned to prevent further play, Derbyshire were 65 for three with Michael Slater also gone, held off a top-edged hook against Azhar Mahmood.

In 1992, when they won the World Cup in Australia, the politics were set aside for long enough for undoubted talent to flourish and new coach Mushtaq Mohammad concedes that ``focus'' will again be crucial in deciding whether they prosper again.

``There has been a lot of bad publicity for Pakistan with the match-fixing allegations but it has not been mentioned in the dressing room,'' he said. ``In terms of talent I believe we are as good as any in this World Cup but talent is not enough unless it is focused properly and that is where I see my greatest responsibility.''

The pitch hardly encouraged fluent strokeplay and the temperature was far from convivial but the ball was attacked with power and relish and never more pleasingly than when Saeed Anwar was at the crease. The left-hander was due to join Derbyshire last season until doubts about his international commitments forced him to pull out and it was easy to see what attracted them as Phil DeFreitas and Trevor Smith were punished for anything loose.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk