Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq feels his team can do well in the ongoing ICC World T20 and warns others not to underestimate the Shahid Afridi-led squad, who posted a superb victory against Bangladesh on Wednesday. In an exclusive interview to thestatesman.com, Misbah spoke his heart out and shared his views on the ongoing World Cup, including his favourite players, who he thinks, can be the game changers in the tournament.
"Being a Pakistani, I would certainly back Pakistan to win the tournament and do well. Look how they performed in the first match. Experts and cricket pundits were worried about the team’s batting, but it was the top order only which took the game away from Bangladesh," Misbah said.
When asked about the current combination of the team and what strategies they need to implement in the coming games and the big game against India, he said, "It was a good batting wicket in Kolkata. But, credit needs to be given to Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez for doing well in the first match itself. It is very important to start well in the tournament."
‘I feel Afridi’s performance is the biggest positive from the victory against Bangladesh. If he keeps going like this, then Pakistan can even win the World Cup. I would again say that do not underestimate Pakistan, they can be the surprise package," he added.
"Matches against India are always crunch and pressure games. As a Pakistani player you would not like to lose against them. But yes, still I feel Pakistan’s strength is bowling and India can only be beaten if the top order gets out early, like New Zealand did," the 41-year-old said.
When asked about Shahid Afridi’s statement of ‘loved by Indians more than Pakistani crowd’ he said, "I think Afridi should focus more on the job of a captain. It’s an important tournament for him, this might be his last World Cup. He should focus more on taking the team forward.’
Before the tournament started, the Indian team was regarded as the hot favourite to win the World Cup, but the loss against New Zealand, many feel, have dented India’s chances to some extent. But, Misbah thinks otherwise. ‘No, I don’t think, it has dented India’s chances. One loss can’t make or break any team.The pitch was unexpected in Nagpur and I hope they will come back well in the games to come. I wish them good luck," he said.
On his favourite players from the current tournament, Misbah said,"I have always rated Virat Kohli as a tremendous cricketer. So in my list, he can be the one game-changer for India. From Pakistan, I have a lot of expectations from Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Amir, they can help Pakistan do well in the tournament. And of course, Martin Guptill from New Zealand and AB de Villiers from South Africa."