Karachi: Coach Bob Woolmer, on Thursday, made it clear that fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif would have to prove their fitness to retain their places in Pakistan's World Cup cricket squad.

Woolmer said the team has been badly hit by injury worries ahead of the mega event, but those writing off Pakistan were making a ``big mistake''.

The World Cup campaign of Pakistan has been thrown into jeopardy with fast bowlers Akhtar, Asif and Umar Gul still facing fitness problems.

``It is like we have burnt our boats and we have to just play to our best ability with the available team,'' said Woolmer.

Woolmer said he would meet Pakistan Board officials and doctors to find out the fitness positions of the fast bowlers, but would not like to take risk with any injured player.

Conditioning camp

``Obviously, we would like to have our first string bowling attack. We have a conditioning camp and time before the World Cup to get our bowlers in top shape,'' he added.

The coach said those writing off his team were making a big mistake.

``I don't think we have performed that badly in South Africa. We had our chances despite a depleted bowling attack but we couldn't capitalise on them. It will be a mistake to write us off,'' he said.

Woolmer said the World Cup would be ``wide open'' this time and there were no clear favourites. ``Australia were clear favourites in the last World Cup in 2003 but this time the World Cup would be evenly contested.

Setback

``I am not reading too much into Australia's recent defeats to England and New Zealand but definitely it is a setback for them. But they are a dangerous side and will try to come back very strongly to prove a point,'' Woolmer said.

The coach, who worked with South Africa for five years and in two World Cups, said Graeme Smith's men were in a confident state of mind at present. ``I think they are in a good position to win the World Cup but in the end a lot will depend on how the pitches behave in the tournament,'' he said. PTI

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