Malik: We must stop Yuvraj
By Michael Wise. Last Updated: 24/09/07 10:37am
Watch live coverage of the World Twenty20 final between Pakistan and India on Sky Sports 1 starting at 12.30pm on Monday, or log on to Skysports.com for over-by-over commentary.
"He's in very good form and we'll sit and discuss how we're going to stop him"
Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik on Yuvraj Singh Quotes of the week
As Pakistan prepare for the World Twenty20 final against arch-rivals India, their tactics for the Johannesburg showdown seem to boil down to one particular plan: stop Yuvraj Singh.
The big-hitting all-rounder has played a starring role in the tournament, with Yuvraj hitting the headlines after becoming only the fourth player to hit six sixes in an over against England.
He showed much the same form in Saturday's semi-final against Australia, on that occasion bludgeoning his way to 70 off just 30 balls as India scored victory by 15 runs.
In all, Yuvraj has hit 12 sixes so far - with one of his five against Australia measuring 119 metres - on his way to a strike-rate of 235.08 per hundred balls - another tournament best.
And, according to captain Shoaib Malik, removing the threat posed by Yuvraj will be Pakistan's main focus at the Wanderers.
"We'll have a meeting and decide where we're going to bowl to him," Malik confirmed.
"We must try and stop him because he's playing superbly at the moment, but hopefully we'll find some kind of plan which will work.
"At the moment he's playing brilliantly - I don't think I've ever seen him play as well as he is now. He's in very good form and we'll sit and discuss how we're going to stop him."
Despite ongoing tendonitis problems with his elbow, Yuvraj has been named in India's team, with Virender Sehwag also in despite suffering groin problems against Australia.
The opener is expected to undergo a fitness test ahead of a final into which Shanthakumaran Sreesanth heads buoyed by his semi-final display.
Sreesanth took two for 11 from his four overs against Australia, with the latter's stand-in captain Adam Gilchrist later describing the seamer's performance as vital to India's success.
But Sreesanth's on-pitch antics also warranted attention in Durban, with match referee Chris Broad fining him 25 percent of his match fee for excessive appealing.
And, mindful of the potentially explosive nature of Monday's encounter, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has called on Sreesanth to rein in his excesses - for the good of both himself and the team.
"I'm the skipper of the side and he has to play according to what I want," Dhoni said.
"He has to do the things that I want him to do. He has to understand it is international cricket and whatever guidelines are there you have to follow them - if you're at school, college or any institution there are certain guidelines that have to be followed.
"He's a talented cricketer and has got the skills to do well at international level.
"But if he doesn't use his head and gets himself banned for four or five matches it won't do any good for himself or the team.
"He can either learn the soft way or the hard way, but he will learn."
India arrive in the final having arguably scored upsets against both South Africa and Australia in their last two matches.
Their place in the final is all the more surprising given that established stars of the magnitude of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman are not playing.
And Dhoni believes that the promising display given by India's new generation can pave the way for future success at Test and one-day level.
"It's important we have bench strength," he explained. "Whatever the seniors have done in the last 15 years has been amazing but now we need to groom the new guys.
"They cannot just walk into the international arena and start performing. They need some exposure and they need some time."
India (from): G Gambhir, V Sehwag, RV Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (capt & wkt), RP Sharma, IK Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Joginder Sharma, S Sreesanth, RP Singh, Dinesh Karthik.
Pakistan (from): Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik (capt), Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Kamran Akmal (wkt), Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif, Salman Butt.
Umpires: SJ Taufel (Aus) & MR Benson (Eng)