ISLAMABAD, Feb 11: Former cricket great Imran Khan said on Friday Pakistani fast bowlers could edge out hosts India in the forthcoming series between the two South Asian arch rivals this month.

"Pakistan must depend on pace, because it's pace which can earn Pakistan a win in India, not spin. The world's best spinner Shane Warne of Australia has been a failure in India," Imran said.

Pakistan are to play three Tests and five one-day games in India on their first tour in six years starting Feb 25, once both countries have resolved a row over playing a match in the volatile city of Ahmedabad.

Indian batting is more adept against spinners, said Imran, who led Pakistan during their first series win in India in 1987. "India has a strong batting line-up and they are very strong against spin so as in our last series in India in 1999 we must depend on fast bowlers," he said.

"I would like to see Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami firing all cylinders." Pakistan is likely to announce the squad on Feb 18 but a big question mark hangs over Akhtar's fitness and the form of Sami.

Sami had to return home after the second Test in Australia in early January and has since regained fitness, but has been suffering a lack of form. Akhtar is still recuperating from a hamstring injury which forced him to return home from Australia late last month and also faces disciplinary action on charges of going to discos while on tour.

A final decision on Akhtar's disciplinary hearing is likely next week. Imran said Pakistan captain Inzamamul Haq had to inspire the team and make it mentally strong.

"I criticised Inzamam for not playing the two Tests in Australia because for me it was strange for a batsman to sit out and now he needs to inspire the team from the front."

He said Pakistan must learn from their mistakes during Australia's tour last month, where they lost all three Tests and both finals of this month's tri-series one-day tournament.

"I hope the Pakistan team is mature enough and will learn from their mistakes on the Australian tour," said Imran. Imran believed it was not the right time to initiate disciplinary action against pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

He said action should have been taken when the team was in Australia after the management received complaints of in discipline by the bowler. "Disciplinary action is taken on the tour and not after a tour.

When you take action after a tour it tantamount to self defeating and means you are trying to find a scapegoat for the defeat," Imran said. The harshest action may bar Akhtar from touring India with the Pakistan team later this month.

"This inquiry against Akhtar is wrong, an action should have been taken on the tour and its the duty of the captain to take the best out of a player and you can't leave a key player out by saying he is hard to handle," added Imran. -Agencies

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