Despite the “age-old cliche of any team can win,” former Pakistan all-rounder and bowling coach Azhar Mahmood believes India will have an advantage in the ICC T20 World Cup, which begins on October 17, because their players have been playing the IPL “which was played in the same grounds in the UAE.”
On October 24, the two neighbours will face off in the most-anticipated match of the showcase event, and Mahmood, a veteran of 143 One-Day Internationals and 21 Tests, claimed India will “have a strong grasp of the playing conditions.”
“India-Pakistan games are always special when it comes to the hype and the pressure on players and the age-old cliche of any team can win on the day does apply to the game in this T20 World Cup as well. But realistically speaking, India does have an advantage going into this game as their players have been participating in the IPL which was played in the same venues in the UAE. So apart from playing highly competitive cricket, they also will have a good understanding of the playing conditions in the UAE,” wrote Mahmood for PakPassion on Saturday.
Despite New Zealand pulling out of the limited-overs series at the last minute, Mahmood believes Pakistan cricketers played some “tough” Twenty20 cricket in the recently concluded National T20 Cup, which has prepared them for the T20 World Cup.
“However, let us not forget that Pakistani players played some exciting Twenty20 cricket in the recently finished National T20 Cup, which was shifted due to the cancellation of the New Zealand tour.” Having said that, we all know that any India-Pakistan match is generally won by the side that is most able to absorb the pressure and in a format like Twenty20, it can easily come down to just one over where a batsman or bowler can totally change the complexion of the game,” he added.
Pakistan has a dismal record against India in ICC tournaments with the men in green winning only 3 out of 17 matches, and all three victories came in Champions Trophy matches. The last time Pakistan beat India was in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final.
“Regardless of current form, the fact is that Pakistan has done very well in the Twenty20 games in the past. In fact, most of the squad chosen for the ICC T20 World Cup such as Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Hassan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi are players who were part of the squad when Pakistan was top of the ICC Rankings. My point is that this side is no stranger to tough matches and we should expect them to do well in this tournament also, regardless of the opposition. This is exactly why I have high hopes that we will perform well and win our tournament opener against India,” wrote Mahmood.
(With IANS inputs)