Dubai: Legendary all-rounders Yuvraj Singh and Shahid Afridi, from India nd Pakistan, respectively, are a treat to talk to. They are as fluent as their batting. Their views on the game and the players are often as powerful as their shots. Yuvraj and Afridi are here to mix with the workforce that is helping shape Expo 2020 Dubai, and have taken time to watch the final of the third edition of the annual Expo 2020 tournament at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.
Speaking to Gulf News, the players were unanimous in heaping praise on Indian opener Rohit Sharma. “Rohit is doing everything — scoring double hundreds and what not. When you are in form, you are at a different level and Rohit is now at a different level,” an elated Yuvraj, who also plays the aggressive brand of cricket, said.
Yuvraj then explained how Rohit could hit those two consecutive sixes on Wednesday against New Zealand and win the Twenty20 International in the Super Over, thereby helping India win the series with two matches still to go. “The last two sixes off the last two balls showed how confident he is about doing it. I have seen Rohit from when he was very young, wining matches when 20 or 25 runs or 17 runs were needed. Now he is doing the same for India. The reason is, he is composed under pressure. Over the years, he has become better under pressure as he sticks to his strengths. He waits for those bad balls and he just nails them in the right direction.”
When asked whether India’s recent form makes them the favourites for the T20 World Cup later this year, Yuvraj said: “This is the first time India has beaten New Zealand in a series in New Zealand. We have some really great talent and to do well abroad is always challenging. I feel that in the T20 World Cup, Australia at home are going to be very strong. India are going to be the other strong side along with the West Indies.”
Wathched by legendary cricketers Yuvraj Singh and Shahid Afridi, who were the guests of Expo 2020, Laing O’Rourke team defeated CoEX Project Team in the final of the annual Expo 2020 fare at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.
Dr Rob Cooling, Vice President, Health, Safety, Quality and Environment, Expo 2020 Dubai, who visualised this tournament said: "Our Better Together programme has been implemented to demonstrate the care, respect and pride we hold for the tens of thousands of workers helping to build Expo 2020. The annual cricket tournament is one of the ways we show our appreciation – and today’s game was a fitting finale to this year’s competition.”
Afridi, who is another attacking batsman, is equally strong in his views. When asked about Pakistan cricket, he candidly said: “If you look at Pakistan cricket from the 1970s, we have never been consistent like the West Indies, Australia and nowdays like India. I think we are changing our team a lot and doing a lot of experiments.
“The T20 World Cup is very close and what they [Pakistan] need to do is select 20 boys and give them the confidence. Recently, I met a lot of cricketers who formed the backbone of the Pakistan team, but are now struggling to make a comeback. When I asked them, they said they needed the confidence from coaches and the selection committee. It is very important for selectors and coaches to instil confidence in the boys if we have to win and not keep on changing the team and experimenting.”
Talking about Mishab-ul-Haq — the all-powerful man of Pakistan cricket, now as selector and coach — Afridi said: “I think it is a big decision and a lot of responsibility is on Misbah’s shoulders. My prayers are always with him and hope he does well, but it is too big a challenge.”