Dubai: It’s time once again for India and Pakistan to lock horns in the Asia Cup on Sunday, with a lot more at stake at the Super Four stage now.
As both teams have picked up full points from their first match in this stage on Friday, a win in the big game will virtually ensure them a berth in the final.
Wasim Akram, Pakistan’s ‘Sultan of Swing’ and former captain, feels that they will have to play at their best to beat India at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the two vanquished teams in Friday’s matches, square off in Abu Dhabi for what’s a vital game for them in the other match of the day.
Akram, who knows a thing or two about the pressure of India-Pakistan contests, told Gulf News following Pakistan’s defeat to India: “I think they really have to play out of their skins on Sunday. They are a young team but learn from their mistakes.”
Pakistan had also survived a scare from Afghanistan on Friday at the Abu Dhabi Zayed Stadium when they won by just three wickets with three balls to spare.
Commenting on Pakistan’s first match against India, he said: “I am a bit disappointed as a player, ex-captain and commentator. As an expert, I know that you may win or lose but Pakistan team did not pitch up when they lost two quick wickets to India.”
UAE cricket fans remember the Akram show in the 1995 Pepsi Asia Cup in Sharjah when he sparkled with an all-round performance. In the first match, he hit a breezy 50 off 46 balls and in the second match against Bangladesh, he took two wickets and hit an unbeaten 30 off 25 balls to emerge as the Man of the Match.
“After losing those early wickets on Wednesday, the faces of players, their body language straightaway showed they were under big-time pressure. Pakistan is one of those teams that can upset at team at any stage and they should fight back,” he said.
Akram wants the Pakistan team to live in the present and not think that by being the Champions Trophy winners, they can win matches.
“I have seen everybody is speaking about last year’s Champions Trophy victory, but that is last year, that happened 12 months ago. That is gone and the team must focus on to win.”
Akram, a shrewd reader of the game, pointed out the roles that each player should play and how dangerous it can be when they on their own decide to play another role.
Taking the match against India, he said: “If players who are supposed to play aggressively do not play that way and others who are meant to play the rotation role do not do it, then it can be difficult. In the India match, the guy who was meant to play the shots decided to block the balls. Inam-Ul Haq’s job is to rotate and Fakhar Zaman’s job is to attack but Fakhar played one maiden over and Inam got under pressure and played that silly shot. Everyone needs to learn from such matches.”
As a former captain, does he have a piece of advice on how to handle pressure?
“My advice is just forget it [the last match against India] but learn from the mistakes. You need to play all the 50 overs.”