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    Villians-turned-heroes Pakistan ride on India's misfortune
    AFP - 22 January 2000
    By Kuldip Lal

    MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan 22 (AFP) - As India stutter from one defeat to another, arch-rivals Pakistan are basking in a
    honeymoon with Australian fans like never before.

    Allegations of cheating, match-fixing and chucking that were heaped by the Australian media on the Pakistanis in the recent
    past have dissolved into growing admiration for Wasim Akram's men.

    The remarkable change has as much to do with India's dismal performance as Pakistan's emergence as a team capable of
    giving world champions Australia a run for their money.

    India, justifying their reputation of being tigers at home and lambs abroad, have yet to win an international on their
    two-month tour, losing all three Tests and the first four one-dayers.

    Pakistan were also blanked 3-0 in the Test series, but have returned stronger in the tri-series by winning three of their first
    five matches.

    A victory over Australia at the Melbourne cricket ground on Sunday - or one over India in their remaining two encounters -
    will ensure Pakistan's place in the final alongwith the hosts.

    ``The Pakistanis have looked solid, cohesive and well-captained, giving Australian fans great entertainment this summer,''
    wrote the Daily Telegraph.

    ``Off the field they have been well-behaved and gracious hosts.

    ``For all their instability, Pakistan have a wonderfully philosphical outlook to the game.

    ``They tend to be a play-for-the-day sort of team who don't dwell on their losses as much as the Indians,'' the paper wrote.

    Master batsman Sachin Tendulkar is the only Indian cricketer whose popularily remains undiminished among Australian

    Pakistan, on the other hand, have thrown up new stars.

    The Daily Telegraph wrote: ``From the showmanship of Shoaib Akhtar, to the skill of the mysterious spinner Saqlain Mushtaq
    and the rapid fire pace of Wasim Akram.

    ``Pakistan are quite an assembly and always great to watch.''

    The emergence of stunning allrounder Abdur Razzaq has lifted Pakistan's rating, the newspaper wrote.

    The 20-year-old won over locals fans by smashing pace spearhead Glenn McGrath for five successive boundaries at the
    Sydney cricket ground last Wednesday.

    But Razzaq's best was reserved for India at Hobart on Friday when he plundered an unbeaten 70 off 52 balls and grabbed five wickets to seal his
    team's 32-run victory.

    McGrath will not be there on Sunday to renew his battle with Razzaq, having been given a match off after the birth of his first child on Thursday.

    Young fast bowler Brett Lee will replace McGrath, while Victorian Ian Harvey gets a chance on his home ground in place of Shane Lee.

    ``We are peaking at the right time,'' Akram said on Saturday. ``It will be great to beat the Aussies on Sunday to get an edge before the finals.''

    Australia lead the league table with four wins from five games.

    Likely teams:

    Australia: Steve Waugh (capt), Adam Gilchrist, Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Damien Martyn, Michael Bevan, Damien
    Fleming, Ian Harvey, Stuart MacGill, Brett Lee.

    Pakistan: Wasim Akram (capt), Saeed Anwar, Shahid Afridi, Abdur Razzaq, Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam-ul Haq, Yousuf Youhanna, Moin Khan,
    Saqlain Mushtaq, Azhar Mahmood, Shoaib Akhtar.