Saleem Malik predicts Pakistan win over India in T20 World Cup
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Former Pakistan captain Saleem Malik Saturday predicted a Pakistan victory over arch-rivals India in their opening match of the 2022 World Cup Twenty20.
Talking exclusively to 24Digital, Pakistan’s former Test batsman said the green shirts will have a psychological edge over India when they enter the match as they hammered their arch-rivals in the last T20 World Cup in Dubai and also defeated them in their recent-most encounter in the Asia Cup.
Malik, who made his Test and ODI debuts in 1982 for Pakistan, said Pakistan should play according to their strengths and should better expose the weaknesses of their opponents.
He said Pakistan’s strength lies in their bowling department and if the bowlers executed their bowling plan in the true spirit, nothing can stop Pakistan from winning the match.
Malik, who was once the youngest batsman to make a hundred on his Test debut at the age of 18, advised Pakistan to go for the chase in the match.
The likelihood of a complete Pakistan vs India match to be held in Melbourne is quite bleak as parts of Australia are facing a third straight La Nina weather event with a wetter-than-average summer expected, and downpours are forecast for from Friday through to next week.
Keeping this in view, Malik advised Pakistan to enter the game with four fast bowlers considering the overcast conditions during the match.
He said it would be a huge ask for spinners to play a key role and give exceptional results on the Australian pitches and only Shadab Khan may be somehow able to play a handy role in the spin bowling department.
Malik, who was himself a handy off-break bowler, however, feels that Pakistan’s bowling department still lacks the experience and other than Haris Rauf other fast bowlers are quite inexperienced when it comes to the shortest version of the game.
Malik, who is also one of the most successful Test captains for Pakistan during his short stay at the helm where he led Pakistan in 12 Tests and won 7, said that the clever usage of the bowlers in the mix could help overcome this shortcoming.
He also advised the Pakistani captain to opt to bowl first as it would help their bowlers to bowl with confidence to an already world class Indian batting line-up.
Malik was of the view that India are lacking in their bowling department and the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja from their line-up has lessened the bite in their bowling arsenal and it would be added advantage to Pakistan batsmen if they go for a chase in the high octane match.
The 1988 Wisden-cricketer of the Year said the performance of Pakistan openers Muhammad Rizwan and Babar Azam will be key for the team.
However, he also feels that the openers were not taking good advantage of the first powerplay, which was a matter of concern as it brought additional pressure on the middle-order batters.
Malik’s most famous innings of his career in an ODI against arch-rivals India in Kolkata in 1987 where he played a whirlwind unbeaten innings of unbeaten 72 runs off 36 deliveries to earn the win for Pakistan, cited the example of Pakistan’s first warm-up game against England where Shan Masood and Haider Ali opened the innings and Pakistan scored 66 runs in the first powerplay.
Malik said Babar and Rizwan should make better use of the powerplay as it would ease the burden on the middle order and would also help the team to achieve big totals.