ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has asked the national team’s World Cup skipper Shahid Afridi to get prepared to play its knock-out stage matches in India. “I don’t agree that we should be voicing our views publicly on what our preferences are as far as playing the quarterfinals and semifinals are concerned,” Imran told Geo Super. Afridi had recently said that his team would try to win all their matches in Group A and finish at the top of the table in order to avoid playing the quarterfinals in India. Afridi added that his team would prefer to play their knockout games in either Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.
But Imran felt that if the archrivals face each other in the quarterfinal or the semifinal stage on the Indian soil, it would be good for Pakistan. “Remember India would be under greater pressure playing Pakistan any knockout match at home. They know well the expectations of their people when they normally play Pakistan and this is the World Cup,” said Imran. The three nations jointly hosting the 2011 World Cup – Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh – will get to play their knockout matches, if they make it that far, at home venues irrespective of where they finish in their groups. The 1992 World Cup winning captain said if he was in Afridi’s place or that of the team management, he would have started a psychological battle by proclaiming his team would want to play India in India during the knockout stage.
“In the 1992 World Cup before the semifinals I told the media that I have asked Wasim Akram to bowl as fast as he can and forget about the wides or no-balls. Wasim came to me on the morning of the match asking me: ‘Skipper what is this’? and I told him this is only for the opposing team. You bowl with discipline. Mind games have a big role to play in cricket,” said Imran. The former cricketer said that though he had his views and the team management had theirs but he personally would not be voicing concerns about playing in India. “Why give out a public message that we don’t want to play in India, it sends out the wrong message to our opposing teams,” he said. Asked about the statement made by Pakistan manager, Intikhab Alam on his (Imran’s) views on team composition, the cricketer-turned politician said his only concern was that Pakistan should be prepared for the quarterfinals. Intikhab told reporters that while everyone had a right to his or her opinion and views, but Pakistani team was aware of what they were doing.
“I still say we need to be more attacking in our team selection. When you play eight batsmen you are sending out negative vibes. If the pitch is seaming or not good for batting it makes sense to play Abdul Razzaq at number eight but given the conditions in the three host countries so far I still say we must play with five specialist bowlers including two specialist spinners,” Imran said. “I have concerns and worries about this team as far as the quarterfinals are concerned. They will obviously qualify that far but they should be ready for that match. It is good they are chasing today against New Zealand,” he added. Imran also pointed out that Pakistan should experiment at this stage and find the ideal combination before the start of the quarterfinals.