Karachi, Feb 01(ANI): Pakistan will find it very hard to reach the semi-finals of the forthcoming World Cup due to the problems it faced in 2010, including the spot-fixing scandal and the subsequent suspension of its three key players, former captain Zaheer Abbas has said.
"Given the problems and issues Pakistan cricket have faced in the last one year and also the fact that we have lost three of our top players, it is difficult to see Pakistan among the top four in this World Cup," the Daily Times quoted Zaheer, as telling reporters on the sidelines of an exhibition.
"If Pakistan are to make the semi-finals they will have to play extraordinarily and consistently well because I personally believe India, England, Australia and South Africa are the starting top four teams of the World Cup," he added.
Zaheer said Pakistan cricket had done well to slowly recover from the problems plaguing it last year.
"But this process will take time and it is good to see that the new players inducted in the team in place of Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif are shaping up well. But to expect this team to fire in the World Cup is a bit difficult," he added.
Zaheer also said that if Pakistan cricket authorities had acted on the match-fixing allegations years back and taken strict action against them, the sport in the country would not have faced the crisis it was facing today.
"Because we didn't take action on the fixing allegations years back, today we are in a position where we have lost three very good and experienced players," he rued.
On the captaincy issue, the former Pakistan captain felt that the board had delayed it for too long now. "I don't think now with the World Cup just weeks away it would be wise to change the captain and Shahid Afridi, who is leading the team in the one-day series in New Zealand, should continue as captain for the World Cup."
Zaheer also felt that Pakistan's hopes of doing well in the World Cup would brighten if they win the remaining three matches against New Zealand.
"So far they have not really dominated the New Zealand team, which to me, is weaker compared to us. We should, on paper, beat them in all three matches and if this happens then Pakistan's chances of doing well in the World Cup will improve," he said.
"We have already delayed our final World Cup preparations and plans compared to other teams, so, it is important we make the most of this series in New Zealand," he added. (ANI)