LAHORE: Former Test leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, a member of the 1992 World Cup-winning squad, reckons that though Pakistan have equal chances of clinching the upcoming World Cup along with a few other sides, the statement by England ODI captain Eoin Morgan declaring Pakistan as favourites could be a ploy to put pressure on Sarfraz Ahmed and company before their five-match ODI series against England.
The England-Pakistan series is scheduled to commence from May 8.
Speaking at a function organised in his honour by the Sports Journalists Association of Lahore (SJAL) here on Tuesday for receiving the Asia Award in England recently, Mushtaq said: “As Pakistan is playing a series against England before the World Cup, the English players could use such statements to put the rivals under pressure psychologically.”
Mushtaq, who played 144 ODIs to claim 161 wickets, said Pakistan could win the World Cup for which a well-balanced team comprising youngsters and experienced players who also possess mental toughness was essential.
“I watched very closely the batting performance of upcoming opener Abid Ali and Mohammad Rizwan. The way they played against Australia showed they have talent and temperament and both these skills are necessary to become world-class batsmen,” Mushtaq said.
“In the 1992 World Cup there were many youngsters like myself, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Moin Khan and some others while most experienced players were in less number but it was well-balanced side so we won.
To a question, Mushtaq said though the fitness standard for a player had become much important in modern-day sports, the match-winners must get some relaxation from the set standard of fitness. “Look, Hashim Amla is not super fit but he is a match-winner so he gets relaxation on fitness rules,” he pointed out.
“So a well balanced team of seniors and juniors could bring laurels for Pakistan again. I also hope the selectors will rely on the experience of Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and others,” he said.
However, the former leggie admitted the fitness standard of Pakistan were not exemplary, noting they had lost many matches in the last ten overs just because of that drawback.
About the weather in England, Mushtaq said in sunny conditions, Pakistan’s spinners also fast bowlers would perform well. “The role of spinners would be important and if they take a couple of wickets in the middle overs, that would help a lot to tilt the match [in Pakistan’s favour].”
He said West Indies team was also being considered as a dangerous side in the World Cup.
About the most important match between Pakistan against India scheduled for June 16, Mushtaq said Pakistan should play with passion and fearless approach and they could beat India. He reminded that in the last ICC Champions Trophy, Indian skipper Virat Kohli in the press conference had mentioned Pakistan as a dangerous team which could suprise any opposition.
He added that credit must be given to the National Cricket Academy and domestic cricket which produced talented players to make the Pakistan Super League a big success.
Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2019