World Cup: Pakistan too have the batters to match India’s star cast, says Mohammad Yousuf

People talk about Pakistan’s bowling but Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav form a superb combination, says former captain

Ahmedabad October 14 dmanewsdesk:

Q: Any favourites for Saturday’s match after Pakistan lost to India in the Asia Cup recently?

A: Given the amount of cricket that is played nowadays, this sort of win and loss will continue. One shouldn’t read much into it and instead look forward to upcoming challenges. Whoever plays well on the given day will win. No team can assume that they will come up trumps. There’s no favourite in a contest between two evenly-matched teams. At the most, you can say that one team has a 55-45 advantage. One loss in a World Cup match doesn’t mean your campaign is over, you can still bounce back and make the knockout rounds.

Q: How much does pressure affect players in such a high-profile contest?

A: Nerves do play a huge role… I would be lying if I said it’s not there. Pressure is always there and whoever handles it better wins. Those who say it’s another game and we don’t feel anything once we take the field are not portraying the correct picture… Pakistan made 300-plus (338) in the Champions Trophy final in 2017. It put India under tremendous pressure and they collapsed.

Q: Does Pakistan have the edge on Saturday?

A: People talk about Pakistan’s bowling but Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav form a superb combination. I also don’t understand why they keep Mohammed Shami out… He is too crafty and can make perfect use of these conditions. India are a seasoned team because most of them play Test cricket too. So they play together the whole year and that helps in finding the right mojo. They are a strong unit and seem to have peaked at the right time.

Q: Why are bowlers struggling a bit in this World Cup?

A: Bowling is really tough in today’s cricket when compared to batting. Two new balls and five fielders inside the circle till 40 overs… If these restrictions were in place when Sachin Tendulkar was playing, he could have added a few more thousand runs. Sachin had an average of 44.83 in ODIs while most players today have in excess of 50. The use of two new balls has loaded the game heavily in favour of the batters. Bowlers like Bumrah and Shaheen Afridi who excel in these circumstances should be considered very good. Remember, there’s one disadvantage for all pacers which none talk about… It is that they don’t get to reverse swing with the two white balls in place.

Q: What are Pakistan’s strengths?

A: Our team is very well balanced if you consider the last two years. They have been pretty consistent. Naseem Shah’s is a big blow but I have immense faith in Afridi and the rest. The way these guys bounce back whenever written off shows their strength.

Q: Is the batting too dependent on Babar Azam?

A: There’s no hiding that the team depends on Babar since he is a world-class batter. But there are others too. Imam-ul Haq, look at how Mohammad Rizwan showed his class in the last match, Fakhar Zaman is slightly off-colour. But Abdullah Shafique has made the most of the opportunities.

Q: What makes Babar special?

A: Babar has the temperament, ability and talent to succeed. Not without reason has he been scoring runs. When all these things combine inside an individual, he achieves greatness. Let me say one thing. You can’t compare batting since 2010 when the use of two new balls and field restrictions came into being… Sachin has an average of 45 while Shubman Gill’s average is 66. How can you rate the two?

Q: Is captaincy affecting Babar’s batting?

A: Captaincy varies from person to person. Like Sachin never favoured leading. Some enjoy their role like Ricky Ponting. He used to take his game to a new level. Babar also does seem to enjoy it since he has been scoring runs.

Q: Will it be a contest between India’s batting versus Pakistan’s bowling?

A: Don’t know how this theory got credence… Pakistan also has two batters in the top-10 rankings. They too have scored runs to get there. Pakistan’s batting has always remained good since the days of Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul Haq.Look at the number of hundreds Anwar got against India. Look at how they responded to the challenge in their last match!

Q: Have you been surprised by KL Rahul’s form since his return?

A: KL always had the ability. If he doesn’t get runs in one match it doesn’t mean he is not good. Give the player a long run and then judge them. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have given great service to India over the last 10/15 years. I have been seeing them since their debut. Technically very good and their performance says it. I have spoken to Kohli and he is a gem of a person. You meet him off the field and he is a model. Every person has a different way of reacting to pressure on the field.

Q: Does playing at home weigh on the host team?

A: India won in 2011… But there is pressure on the players because of the expectations. This is not just true about India but also Pakistan.

Source: The Telegraph online