Sports, Cricket News : Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq regards Sunday’s key clash against India at the Adelaide Oval as an opportunity to end an embarrassing string of World Cup flops against the arch-rivals.
Pakistan have lost all their five World Cup matches to India dating back to 1992, even though they hold a superior 72-50 win record against the neighbours in one-day internationals.
“This is a chance to create history,” Misbah said on Saturday ahead of the sell-out blockbuster that will be followed by millions in both nations and around the world.
“India-Pakistan is always all about pressure. The best thing we can do is just enjoy the game, enjoy the atmosphere, go there and be positive.
“My advice to the team is just go out there and play your natural game. That is the only way to handle pressure.”
The Pakistan captain was not worried that his team’s opening match in the 14-nation tournament was a high-voltage encounter against India.
“You have to be ready to play against any team at any time if you really want to do well in any tournament,” he said. “It’s not really a question of playing India first.
“You need to be ready. Whenever any team comes against you, you should be ready to play well.
“The key is not to take anything into the ground when you are playing against India. You don’t have to worry about what’s happening outside, what’s going on in the two countries.
“I think you need to focus on your game, go there and play your best.”
Misbah will be inspired by Pakistan’s title victory under Imran Khan when the World Cup was last played Down Under in 1992, but is burdened with a team weakened by injuries and suspensions.
The team management has been reluctant to rush back one-day cricket’s number one bowler Saeed Ajmal despite the off-spinner being cleared of a suspect action earlier this month.
With seamers Umar Gul and Junaid Khan sidelined with injuries, Pakistan suffered a severe blow when the seasoned Mohammad Hafeez was ruled out of the tournament with a calf injury.
Lanky paceman Mohammad Irfan — the tallest man ever play international cricket at 7 feet, one inch — will lead the bowling attack that includes leg-spinners Yasir Shah and Shahid Afridi.
“Obviously senior players and good performers are key to a team’s success, but this is how life goes on,” said Misbah. “Injuries are part and parcel of life.
“One should just focus on what we have got, and we need to believe that whatever we have got is the best.”
Misbah was reluctant to talk about India’s dismal tour of Australia over the last three months where Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team lost the Tests 2-0 and did not win a match in the subsequent tri-series.
“We are not thinking about what India is doing and what their performances are,” he said. “I think we need to focus on our strengths and our game.”
A winning start for either team will boost their hopes of taking one of the four quarter-final spots from a pool which also includes the impressive South Africa, the West Indies, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates. (AFP)