Pressure is on India, Pakistan have nothing to lose: Shoaib Akhtar
Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has been a part of many India-Pakistan encounters.
NEW DELHI: India versus Pakistan is the most highly anticipated encounter and these two teams are going to clash with each other in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and then in the ICC World Cup 2023.
Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has been a part of many India-Pakistan encounters, be it bi-laterals, Asia Cup or ICC tournaments like World Cups or Champions Trophy.
“It is not for the faint-hearted. If you are brave enough, it is your platform. If you are a coward or if you are insecure this match is not for you, ” said Shoaib Akhtar on the India-Pakistan game on Backstage With Boria World Cup Special on Revsportz.
He went on to say that he was always in favour of the Pakistan team touring India. “From day one I have been saying that Pakistan should travel to India and play wherever asked. There was never a question of not travelling to India. Let's face the truth. India generates the maximum money for world cricket and ICC actually uses the money, which comes from India. It is that money, which is then given to us in Pakistan, which helps fund our domestic cricket. So in a way, it is Indian money which is helping our cricket. So there is no reason why we shouldn’t travel to India and play in front of packed Indian crowds”, said Akhtar.
Akhtar believed Pakistan will start as underdogs in the match against India at the ICC World Cup 2023 at the Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad and it might actually work for Babar Azam and his team.
“What will go in our favour is that the Indian media will put enormous pressure on the Indian team. For them, the Indian team can’t lose and if they lose god help them. This builds humungous pressure on India and it means we are designated underdogs. Frankly, all the pressure is on India and we have nothing to lose. All our boys need to do is play their heart out and beat India in India. Without much pressure and with all the pressure on India, they can surely do so. Go to India and beat India. That’s what we should do”, he argued.
Pakistan have never beaten India in a 50-over world cup. These two teams have played each other on seven occasions and every time India went on to register a victory. The last time these two teams met in a 50-over World Cup match was way back in 2019 where under Virat Kohli's captaincy India beat Pakistan by 89 runs (D/L Method). At the ICC T20 Word Cup 2022 Virat Kohli played a brilliant knock of 82 not out to pull out victory from the jaws of defeat.
Commenting on Virat Kohli, Shoaib couldn’t control his excitement about Virat’s innings against Pakistan in the last T-20 World Cup in Australia.
“That match was all about Virat Kohli. The cricket gods wanted to do it for him. He wasn’t in the best of form and was facing a lot of heat from you guys in India. The media was after him. It was god’s way of telling him- this is your stage, come and become king again. If you see all that transpired, rain and a lot of it, 100,000 people, 1.3 billion Indians watching, 30 crore Pakistanis watching, the whole world in awe- the stage was set for Kohli. It was the greatest stage of all. When you add the two sixes he hit of Haris Rauf, that match gave him back his kingdom. I think it was all destined for him on that day at the MCG. “
He went on to say that “Kohli should focus on Test cricket and aim to equal Sachin Tendulkar’s record on 100 international 100s. I think he should play for at least 6 more years. Kohli has it in him to break the record. He should focus on Test cricket after this world cup”, argued Akhtar.
Finally, Akhtar said he isn’t sure if Rohit Sharma was the right man for the Indian captaincy. While praising MS Dhoni, he said, “You won the 2007 World T-20 under him, the 2011 world cup and then the 2013 Champions Trophy. The moment Dhoni gave up captaincy, things
went south for India. When I see Rohit I keep asking this question of myself if he should have accepted captaincy in the first place? I think Rohit feels the panic on occasions and lets pressure get to him. The pressure of captaincy cripples you and it happened with Virat Kohli also. That’s why you don’t win a major tournament. Make no mistake, Rohit does have the team to win the world cup. As a batter he is perhaps more talented than Virat Kohli also. He is a classical batsman and the kind of shots he plays,it is just mind blowing. But with captaincy is he being able to do that? Let him prove me wrong and all of us wrong for that’s what all of India will want him to do in this world cup”, concluded Shoaib