ISLAMABAD

Australian High Commissioner Peter Hayward predicts New Zealand-India clash in the final of the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup, but also doesn't rule out Australia's chances.

In an interview with The Nation at his residence Wednesday, Peter was full of praise for the arrangements made in Australia and New Zealand for the World Cup and lauded Pakistan-India match terming it crowd puller and a treat to watch. Watching Pakistan-India match is same like seeing Australia-New Zealand clash.

“I hope the quarterfinal between Pakistan and Australia will also be of highest quality and people will witness the two top teams playing in professional manner. Being an Australian, I want my country to win, but if Pakistan team plays well and beat Aussies, I will enjoy that too being a high commissioner in Pakistan,” he added.

Peter said that tremendous matches and tough competitions were witnessed in the mega event, even associate members also performed very well and provided the spectators full entertainment. But he was a bit surprised to witness Sri Lanka surrendering so flatly against South Africa. “It shows South Africans have worked out their plan, their bowlers responded well and I was surprised to witness JP Duminy scoring first hat-trick of the World Cup. I hope other quarterfinal matches will be very close ones and teams will live up to fans expectations.”

The Australian high commissioner also revealed that the UK High Commissioner would support Pakistan team in the World Cup in the quarterfinal against Australia.

To a query regarding ouster of M Irfan, Peter said: “Yes, it is a body blow for Pakistan ambitions but I still believe their bowling is strong enough which can rattle through Australia batting line up. For Australia, Starc is bowling with nice speed and also picking up wickets that’s why he is the top wicket-taker in the event while batting is also very balanced one. If we manage to beat Pakistan, the most likely we have to face current champions India in the semifinals. If we beat them as well, the world cup will be ours.”

About any upset at that crucial stage, Peter said: “I believe the biggest upset of the event could be expected from Bangladesh against India. It is my feeling that Bangladeshi team is capable of beating any top side and Indians should be aware of that threat.” Replying to a query regarding helping Pakistan in reviving international cricket here, Peter said: “I would love to play positive role in this regard. I am already working closely with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and met with Rod Marsh and discussed about prospect of Australian cricket team visiting Pakistan.”

He was full of praise for Pakistani team and people and their hospitality. The PCB is doing a wonderful job but as all know Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore, there are still security concerns, but situation is improving fast and I hope things would be better soon and international teams would start touring the country. I know it is very difficult for players not to play in front of their home crowd and also affects their performances, but for the time being, it is not possible, but in near future, the things would improve and players would start playing at their home soil.”

“Pakistani players are already playing in the Big Bash and there is absolutely no issue of Pakistani players visiting Australia and applying their trade in different sports. We have complete sports infrastructure and Pakistanis can utilize those facilities,” he said and added: “Australian Army cricket team would tour Pakistan in April and play matches here.”

To another query regarding security issues he had to face while traveling to different parts of the country, Peter replied: “I have my own security and I never feel any security issues where ever I go. I have worked in five countries and I must accept, Pakistan is by far the best of the lot. The hospitality of the people, the way they give me tremendous respect, love and treat me like brother is unforgettable and remarkable. I would cherish these moments and will certainly miss the time I spent in Pakistan.”

When asked about his message to international community about Pakistan, Peter said: “People talk Pakistan is a failed state but I don't agree with this. Pakistan economy has been flourishing, people work hard and enjoy their work. I strongly believe Pakistan deserve better treatment and world must come forward and help Pakistan in best possible fashion.”