Reality check: Pakistan can beat India on their home turf

Published: March 30, 2011
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Shahid Afridi (R) boxes during a training session at The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium in Mohali. PHOTO: AFP

I am not a pundit, and I am definitely not Paul the octopus. I am just a cricket fan who believes in his team.

All I ask of other cricket followers is to show respect to our highly talented cricketers who have played exceptionally well to qualify for the semi-final.

There is every chance that Pakistan will end up playing at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2, 2011. Us Pakistani “rickshaws” will take the highway to Mumbai, leaving behind the BMWs Mr Shastri has claimed India to be.

Team Pakistan can win the semi-final, and nonsensical warnings from Mr Rehman Malik will not hurt our chances.

A trip down memory lane

In 1992, Team Pakistan won five consecutive matches to clinch the World Cup. Luck may have been on our side, but to say that the whole World Cup win had nothing to with the talent of the Pakistani players is just a denial of facts.

Inzi played a gem of an innings in the semi-final and Wasim Akram produced those two deadly deliveries in the final.

In 1983, India was beaten by Australia with a margin of 162 runs in the group stages. Should I say that a team bowled out for 158 against the Australians, who were beaten by minnows Zimbabwe in their first game, went on to win the World Cup just because God was on their side? No – India played well and came out as deserving winners.

It is best if we accord the same respect to Team Pakistan for the 1992 triumph.

We don’t lack the basics

Sehwag, Sachin and Yuvraj are amongst the top run-getters of this tournament. But should this analysis be done without taking a look at the conditions under which those matches were played?

Here is a fact: India played all its matches in India, barring the opening match against Bangladesh. Pitches in India are much more conducive to batting than the ones in Sri Lanka, where Pakistan played most of its matches.

The pitches in Sri Lanka not only offer help to seam bowlers upfront but run-scoring is also difficult on those pitches. The average total during a domestic competition on the newly-laid pitches at the R Premedasa Stadium in Colombo was 225. Team Pakistan bettered it by 52 runs, scoring 277 against the mighty Sri Lankans.

Dhoni and Raina may be in “immaculate form” but Raina has only played two games, scoring a total of 38 runs in the tournament while Dhoni has a paltry 125 runs from six innings in the World Cup.

Pakistan’s bowling attack has been called “average” by cynics. In my opinion, no other’s team attack is more potent: Shahid Afridi is backed by Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez- and you have Shoaib Akhtar waiting in the wings.

With this bowling attack, we managed to bowl out the Windies for 112 on a harmless batting track.

What is required?

Without a doubt, the pressure will be immense and the winner will be the team that absorbs the pressure better.

This match will be a test of every player’s grit and temperament; it will be less a question of mathematics and more a mind game. Each team has won three out of the last six ODIs played between the two teams, starting from the Kitply Cup in Bangladesh (June 2008).

The last time Pakistan played India at Mohali (November 2007), the men in green chased down a stiff target of 322. This will surely be an inspiration for Afridi and his men, given that seniors such as Akhtar, Younis, Misbah and himself saw Pakistan through in that encounter.

India, watch out

During the semi-final tomorrow, cricket euphoria will peak; battle lines will be drawn and strategies chalked out.

The hands of countless cricket fans on both sides of the border will be raised in prayer, asking for nothing but victory.  Do we need the Almighty’s help to beat India? The answer is yes, we always need His help.

Does that mean nothing else can save us? No – Team Pakistan possesses the strength and skill to beat India in India.

Imran Ahmad Khan

Imran Ahmad Khan

The author is a student of journalism at Columbia University. Before this, he worked for the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan Super League. He tweets @imranahmadkh

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Abuzar Aziz

    It’s destiny. Simple.Recommend

  • amna

    That’s the spirit! Beautiful article…i totally second ur thoughts. Belittling the efforts of a team that made it through to the semi-final is nothing but crazines. Recommend

  • Rameez

    dude, you are one hell of a beautiful writer!!!! loved the way you admit the facts and loved the way you rounded off things…. :) :) :)

    keep it up!!!Recommend

  • abc

    I hope someone is also educating the masses amid this hype, that this is a cricket match and God Forbid if we lose, they dont have to go burning about the country!Recommend

  • sarah Akber

    a gud inspiring article..Recommend

  • Wasim Akram

    I love the way you state facts . You are absolutely right about the R Premadasa stadium . Infact I have been there and seen the pitch for myself . Today’s match will be an absolute cracker and nobody on this planet can deny that . It’s good to see young people like you writing articles like this . Keep it up . Recommend

  • ayesha

    Very true! We should have faith in our team, like others have in theirs. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that we have a great bunch of talent in our team with all the potential to make it through to the final. I think just like Pakistan ripped off Australia of its 34-match unbeaten streak, Pakistan will surely beat India for the first time in World Cup today on its home ground. Go Pakistan Go!!!! Recommend

  • zunair ali

    @everyone
    Hey guys, its just a game after all..i appreciate all your hardcore patriotic criticism and it was well due.. i know i messed up the facts and i was very spiteful in articulating my opinions and im sorry for that…but i hate to say it, i did tell you so ;)

    @Said, Imran and Atika
    no hard feelings guys just one of those days..
    p.s: im hiding in my office.. :)Recommend

  • http://studentsofpakistan.com Imran Ahmad Khan

    @ Zunair

    Good for you that your prediction came out to be true. My only point was that you should give Team Pakistan some respect. Don’t write them off just because you want to….recognize their talent, their ability and their strengths. If you still think the same way, your ‘luck’ argument then applies to Tendulkar’s innings today….he was just plain lucky, no talent on display. Which is obviously not true.

    I am a proud Team Pakistan supporter. And I know that our boys gave it their best shot….India played better cricket and came out as deserving winners. Good game of cricket.Recommend

  • http://amnatariq.blogspot.com amna tariq shah

    Pakistan Team still rocks! The conditions they played in, the inexperienced bunch of players that were united by the skipper, the controversies they have been through for the last one year, and the way the biased crowd supported only their home team, shows we are and we will be the best!!!

    And this is the STRONG BATTING LINEUP Indians were so proud of??? 260 runs??? Not enough! Not enough! Sachin was just being lucky otherwise he wasn’t at his best…Yuvraj was dismissed at 0…we are not impressed!!!! We gifted you this victory because of our poor fielding..!!! That’s it!

    Wahab was tremendous!!

    Boom Boom Afridi’s team and Boom Boom Pakistan :)Recommend

  • http://maynotmatter maynotmatter

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaRecommend

  • http://maynotmatter maynotmatter

    like everything, you idiots are again in denial that you simply “loose” . loosers!!….hahaRecommend