KARACHI: “Pakistan players should not over-burden themselves with the thought of facing arch-rivals India in Sunday’s game or from what happened last Wednesday, but should just go out there and enjoy a game of cricket which is played between two teams.”

This was stated by the country’s most qualified cricket psychologist Moin-ul-Atiq here on Saturday on the eve of the Pakistan-India Super Four clash.

Talking to Dawn, Moin insisted that the players need to completely ignore the media hype about the match as well as the adverse comments about Pakistan’s psychological defensive mindset in the matches against India and only then they will emerge victorious.

“Why are we always taking so much pressure for the India match,” asked Moin who has served as consultant to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on numerous occasions in the past besides having sessions with the national players off and on.

“Look what Hong Kong did to India, they almost pulled off a fantastic win while schasing a stiff target of 280 plus,” Moin argued. “Why? Simply because they did not get daunted or nervous by the thought of facing the formidable Asian team but just went ahead and gave their best and nearly stunned India.”

“There was a degree of nonchalance in Hong Kong’s approach and that is exactly the attitude that Pakistan should adopt for Sunday’s match.”

Moin observed that the Pakistan players are often suffering from ‘external deception’ which leads to defeat.

“What I mean to say here is that our players become obsessed with the thought of facing India all the time prior to a contest. Whether they are eating, sleeping, watching tv or preparing in the nets, they are constantly thinking about India — their bowlers, their batsmen etc — and how to beat them. Such attitude will never pay off,” he added.

“Both Imam [ul-Haq] and Fakhar [Zaman] clearly looked pre-occupied in the previous match and so did skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, as if the defeat against India is the end of the world,” said Moin. “They were too mindful of the consequence of not doing well against the opposition and tried to hit their way out which was a wrong thing to do.

“But on Friday, against Afghanistan, Imam took his time to build an innings and so did Shoaib [Malik], and won the game for their team.

“However, I could see Sarfraz [Ahmed] 0again being very tense and worried throughout and he must shun that mindset. He is a fighter, I know that for sure, and must lead his team from the front with a positive frame of mind. That is the key to our success,” concluded Moin.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018