In exactly three week’s time, world cricket will witness the first of the guaranteed two blockbuster clashes between arch-rivals India and Pakistan. On September 2, at the Pallekele Stadium in Sri Lanka, the two teams will face each other in the group stage of the 2023 Asia Cup. And ahead of the big clash, as the predictions and analysis of the team teams keeping flowing in from the two nations, a Pakistan legend, joining the bandwagon of veterans and analysts, made a bombastic remark on the present Indian side before picking the Babar Azam-led side at the favourites.
Sarfaraz Nawaz, a veteran of 55 Tests and 45 One-Day Internationals for Pakistan between 1969 and 1984, based his opinion on India’s recent move to experiment with their batting line-up during the ODI series in West Indies where captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli had taken a backseat to allow the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Sanju Samson and Axar Patel to make their case for the World Cup team.
While the move was the test India’s bench strength amid concerns over the return of Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul, as explained by head coach Rahul Dravid as well, Nawaz felt that rather than building the side it has destroyed them .
“Pakistan has a much more settled and stable outfit for the Asia Cup and World Cup when compared to India. The Indians have still not been able to work out their final combination for these major events,” Nawaz told the media in Lahore on Friday. “Captains are changing, many new players are being tried out, there are no proper combinations. I feel instead of developing the Indian side it is being destroyed.”
Nawaz also admitted that India will be under pressure not just for being the host nation but also for not being able to win an ICC trophy for 10 years.
“They are always high expectations when you play at home and it creates more pressure. India’s plus point is they have some good senior performers,” he added.
Nawaz, who is hailed for his reverse swing bowling and once picked up seven wickets for just a single in a spell against Australia in Melbourne, also felt that left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi will emerge as Pakistan’s x-factor in big matches at World Cup.
“He is an extraordinary bowler and very very lethal in his first two three overs. I have rarely seen a bowler with such control over swing, seam and pace and yorkers with the new ball,” said Nawaz.
The veteran Pakistan bowler also gave his verdict on the announcement of Pakistan’s team for the Asia Cup.
“He is an extraordinary bowler and very very lethal in his first two three overs. I have rarely seen a bowler with such control over swing, seam and pace and yorkers with the new ball,” he added.