Birmingham: Pakistan may be going home whatever the result of their last ICC Champions Trophy group match against India on Saturday, but captain Misbah Ul Haq has called on his players to treat the match like a final.
Pakistan are already out of the competition thanks to earlier defeats to West Indies and South Africa, while arch-rivals India have qualified for the semi-finals after back-to-back wins.
But Misbah believes a win over MS Dhoni’s side would go a long way. “Whenever we play each other it’s like a final for everybody. The supporters in India and Pakistan want their teams to win,” Haq said on Friday.
“It’s a big opportunity for the players to prove themselves. It’s the last chance for us in this tournament to prove how good we are.
“We don’t have to just think about the result, just go there and try to give our best shot. That is the only thing which I am telling all my players. I think these players are experienced enough to understand this matter.
“As far as the tournament is concerned, there is no pressure on us now. So it’s one game and a chance for us to prove ourselves — go there and get something back. I think as a player, as a team, there should not be any pressure on us. We should just express ourselves and try to win.”
When asked if Pakistan’s supporters might forgive their team’s poor show in the tournament if they beat India, Misbah added: “Maybe to some extent because this game is very important. But disappointment will remain because every team wants to win a championship whenever you are there.
“The Champions Trophy is the second-biggest tournament in the world and you need to just go ahead in these types of tournaments. I think it’s a big game, so it will really matter if we can win it.”
Pakistan’s batting line-up has failed badly during the tournament, but their bowlers have impressed. On Saturday they will be up against India’s strong batting unit and Misbah said: “My bowlers have already played against India and we were there in India before for the series. They [Pakistan’s bowlers] have bowled to most of the batsmen and bowled effectively. This is at the back of the mind of my bowlers and I think that will help them. Also remember lately we did well against India.”