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Mindset is India’s biggest asset, says Aamer Sohail

Pakistan have lost two of their four matches and are in danger of being knocked out if they lose to India

By Indranil Majumdar in Nottingham
  • Published 15.06.19, 4:30 AM
  • Updated 15.06.19, 4:30 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Aamer Sohail (Wikipedia)

Aamer Sohail knows a thing or two about the pressure associated with an India-Pakistan World Cup match.

A member of Pakistan’s World Cup-winning team in 1992, he was the captain of the Pakistan side that lost to India in the 1996 quarter final in Bangalore.Pakistan have never won in the six face-offs in World Cups, but the Lahore-based Sohail is not willing to predict a winner this time.

“The psychological factor will always be there in such contests. If you are mentally stronger, nothing can haunt you… If you play good and positive cricket, outside pressure won’t affect you,” the 52-year-old told The Telegraph on Friday.

“I would say it has been hot and cold so far from the Pakistan side. They can be dangerous on their day and equally bad on other days.”

Pakistan have lost two of their four matches and are in danger of being knocked out if they lose to India. But Sohail wants Sarfaraz Ahmed’s boys to dwell on the positives.

“You are competing in a tournament which has huge magnitude. Another bad performance can get you out… My message is simple: Dwell on the positives and don’t allow setbacks to affect you,” the former captain said.

“Inconsistency has been the bane of Pakistan cricket. I would rather say unpredictability has been the charm of Pakistan cricket! But you need to eradicate that… We have had enough of it.

“Of late the stress has been on fitness and fielding. But we also need to improve ourselves technically.

“I am aware of the importance of fitness in today’s cricket, but you should also know the technique of moving around on the field.”

Sohail was critical of coach Mickey Arthur and the support staff, but didn’t wish to take any names. “The support staff’s inputs haven’t been reflected in their performance. When we won the Champions Trophy, the onus was huge… We should have improved our skills to retain that stature. Sadly, there has been no improvement,” he said.

Sohail lauded India’s consistent performance under Virat Kohli’s leadership, and feels Kohli and Kuldeep Yadav could prove to be the thorn in Pakistan’s path.

“India’s biggest asset is the self-assurance and mindset of the players. They know what they are capable of and have the ability to pull it through.

“Kohli will always play a big role in such encounters. But how the Indian middle order performs is more important. (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni will come into the picture if the openers don’t fire. As for the bowling, Kuldeep has the ability to turn the match on its head.

“For Pakistan, Wahab Riaz and Shadab Khan can play vital roles. I say Wahab because the Indians will plan against Mohammed Aamir and try to negate him. The middle-overs can decide the contest.

Shikhar Dhawan’s absence will be a relief for Pakistan, he reckons. “When a player scores a hundred and misses the next match, it obviously comes as a breather for the opposition…

“Rohit (Sharma) has struggled when two left-arm pacers are firing with the new ball… That’s why I say the middle overs will be crucial.”