Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has said that depth of India and Virat Kohli-led batting line-up will make them favourites for the high-octane match between India and Pakistan that will take place on June 4 in Birmingham.
“As a passionate Pakistan supporter, it’s natural that I would want my team to finish on the winning side against any team, and especially against India. However, recent history and the depth of the India squad gives it a slight edge heading into the game. Led by Virat Kohli, the Indians possess a formidable batting line-up that can flay any bowling attack on its day. Kohli’s credentials as a top-order batsman are known to all and he has played some memorable innings in the ODI format. I have vivid memories of his sublime century against us in the 2012 Asia Cup, while he was at his absolute best in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 clash at Adelaide, laying the foundation of an Indian win with a masterful hundred,” he wrote in his ICC column.
Afridi further added that bowling to Kohli will be a challenge for Pakistan bowlers and said that get his wicket early will help Pakistan restrict India to a low score.
“For me, bowling to Kohli was always a challenge and Pakistani bowlers would have to be on top of their game against him. They must try and attack, especially when he is new at the crease. If Pakistan dismisses Kohli cheaply, it will significantly increase its chances of restricting India to a low score.
“While Kohli is the backbone, India possesses considerable firepower around him. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni are all match-winners and capable of churning out exceptional performances.”
Afridi, who has retired from international cricket, said that he is please to see his old friend Yuvraj Singh back on the field.
“I am really pleased to see my old friend Yuvraj return to the international fold with renewed hunger and passion for the game. I wish him the very best and hope to see him play in his usual belligerent way. Yuvi is a treat to watch when in full flow and some of his shots leave you awestruck. I do hope though that he reserves his best for the games following the opener against Pakistan!
Giving advice to the Pakistan bowlers, he said that they need to keep taking wickets at regular intervals and not sit back and watch.
“To succeed against India, Pakistan’s bowlers would need to keep chipping away with wickets at regular intervals – you can’t afford to sit back since the likes of Yuvi and Dhoni are in the middle-order and the presence of the duo gives India real batting depth.
Talking about India’s bowling, he said that they are fielding a balanced bowling attack with some skillful bowlers led by R Ashwin
“While batting is India’s traditional strength, it is also fielding a balanced bowling attack that includes some skillful bowlers led by the wily Ravichandran Ashwin. The off-spinner has truly come of age and has become a pivotal part of India’s recent successes across the three formats. Ashwin has great control and bowls an impeccable line and length which troubles the best in the business.
“He gets great support from left-armer Ravindra Jadeja, who has been another vital cog in the Indian line-up in recent years. The conditions in England might not suit spinners much but both Ashwin and Jadeja have the quality and accuracy to make run-scoring difficult for batsmen. The spinners will be complimented by what I feel is a more than capable seam bowling line-up led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami.”
Afirdi did not mince his words and said India enter the game with the ‘favourite’ tag but also added that Pakistan can surely spring a surprise.
“India enter the game against Pakistan on a high and has the ‘favourite’ tag. However the ‘Green-shirts’ can surely spring a surprise with a committed and passionate performance according to present day cricket requirements. I’m hoping we all get to see another memorable contest that befits the India-Pakistan rivalry. Let the best team take the honours, and more importantly, let it be an entertaining and memorable battle that provides rich entertainment to billions around the world,” he wrote.