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June 14, 2019

Waqar urges Pakistan to raise their game against arch rivals: Amir to play key role against India, predicts Zaheer


June 14, 2019

MANCHESTER: With their shoulders slumped, Pakistan’s players walked towards the team bus at the County Ground in Taunton on Wednesday evening. Some fans, who had lined to catch a glimpse of their favourite cricketers cheered while others booed.

However, there was this one player, who walked with his head held high amidst applause from the fans. Mohammad Amir acknowledged the crowd as they hailed him with chants of ‘Amir, Amir!’ Amir was also the only man, who performed to his true potential in the key World Cup game against Australia on Wednesday. But despite his career-best 5-30 – Amir’s first five-wicket haul in ODI cricket – the error-prone Pakistanis crashed to a 41-run defeat against the Aussies.

Despite the tournament’s forgiving format, Pakistan now find themselves walking dangerously close to thin ice. With just three points from four matches, they languish at the number 8 spot in this ten-nation contest. And their next game is against high-flying India, who will begin Sunday’s big match at Old Trafford as firm favourites.

So can Pakistan bounce back, the same way they did by stunning England following a timid showing in a seven-wicket loss against West Indies?

“Of course they can,” says Zaheer Abbas, the former Pakistan captain. “I know the Indians are, at the moment, a very good side in all three departments of the game but that doesn’t mean we can’t beat them. We defeated them in the ICC Champions Trophy final and we can do that again,” he told ‘The News’ on Thursday.

Zaheer believes that the back-to-form Amir will be Pakistan’s key man in Sunday’s match. “Amir showed yesterday that when he is at his best, he can dismantle any batting line-up. I think he will be all pumped up against India. He is going to be our key man.” But Zaheer was quick to add that Amir will need support at the other end.

“If the rest of the attack had supported him yesterday, I’m sure we would have beaten Australia. Unfortunately, Amir was the only one playing to his potential and also maybe Wahab Riaz. But the others weren’t really able to contribute towards the team’s cause.

“Our other players will need to emulate Amir and Wahab and give their best. That’s the only way we can beat India and make a comeback in the World Cup. If we beat them, it would give us the sort of confidence boost that you need to win a major title like the World Cup.”

Meanwhile Waqar Younis watched in disbelief as Pakistan’s pace attack allowed Australian openers to lay the foundation stone of a big total in overcast conditions.

He rued the fact that Pakistan were unable to get early breakthroughs in a 41-run defeat against Australia in Taunton and stressed that they will need to do much better in the big World Cup game against India at Old Trafford on Sunday

“When Pakistan play India it’s always a huge game, but their meeting on Sunday is shaping up to be more crucial than ever,” Waqar was quoted as saying. “It’s simple – if Pakistan want to stay in the tournament, they have to bring an ‘A plus’ performance and win that game. “The match has always meant so much to both countries. There will be billions watching the game. “Pakistan’s track record is very mixed, but that’s all gone. That’s all history. It’s a new game, a new day.

“Pakistan have got to take positives out of what they did to India in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy a couple of years ago. They must think positively going into this game.”

Waqar hoped that Pakistan have saved their best for the game against India. “I hope they have got their best game in the locker for India, who showed against Australia that they are a very fine side.

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