It has traditionally been a battle between India’s batting and Pakistan’s bowling whenever the arch-rivals have met on a cricket field and Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi reckons the trend will continue when they meet again in World T20 fixture on Saturday.
Pakistan were the last team to land in India, putting aside safety concerns that led to the switching of their match against India from Dharamsala to Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
With the uncertainty around their participation finally over, Afridi had no doubts that the onus, as always, will be on the Pakistani bowlers to trump an Indian line-up teeming with match-winners. “I think this has been the case over the last 60 years,” the all-rounder told reporters in Kolkata.
Pakistan ready for World T20: Afridi
Pakistan, who begin their Super 10 campaign on Wednesday, have never beaten India in a World Cup.
Afridi was confident that his bowling unit, bolstered by paceman Mohammad Amir’s return from a fixing ban, can help break the jinx with a slightly improved performance from their inconsistent batting colleagues.
“Our bowling attack is pretty good. You have Amir and [Mohammad] Irfan. [Mohammad] Sami is also back and then there is Wahab Riaz,” said Afridi, who tops the wicket-takers’ list in the shortest format with 93 scalps. “The fast bowling attack overall is very strong. If our batsmen can give us a defendable total, then I’m confident [the bowlers can clinch it].”
World T20: Pakistan arrives in Kolkata amid high security
The leg-spinner was also enthused by Pakistan’s record at Eden Gardens, where they have prevailed in all four matches against India. “We have good memories of the ground,” he added. “We have played well at this ground, we know the conditions and the pitch suits us as well.”
Afridi brushes off security concerns
Afridi, meanwhile, brushed off concerns over security for his team at the World T20, saying he was looking forward to playing in front of India’s raucous crowds.
The 36-year-old said his team had always been ‘physically and mentally’ prepared for the tournament despite weeks of uncertainty over whether they would be allowed to travel to arch-rivals India, hosts of the World T20.
Batsmen must play responsibly in World T20: Afridi
Pakistan only announced on Friday it was sending the national team after receiving assurances from India following negotiations with its neighbour over security arrangements.
“We are cricketers and not politicians,” said Afridi. “We have always enjoyed playing in India and have been loved by Indian crowds more than crowds back home in Pakistan. Cricket has always brought people together and I think politics should be kept away from cricket.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2016.
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