Kolkata: If Waqar Younis laboured the point at the pre-match press conference before today's face-off with India, it was with good reason.
'Outsiders' on recent form, the Pakistanis suddenly see their chance against the arch-rivals following contrasting starts of the two in the World Twenty20. The Pakistan coach, a veteran of many a battle between the two, knows when to slip in the yorker.
"We're probably a little more confident this time because the Indians know they can go out of the tournament (if they lose), so they will be under a lot of pressure," Waqar responded when drawn to the fact that Pakistan have lost all their matches to India at ICC World T20 tournaments.
'History can change'
"It's not that history cannot be changed." Agreeing that Pakistan-India bring a lot of pressure, he again made the point. "We have been under pressure on earlier occasions, but it's the first time that the Indians are under more pressure. I've been a cricketer all these years, and I'm sure they're feeling the heat and, god willing, we'll take advantage of that," said the 44-year-old. "Playing in your own country, in such a huge tournament..."
An artist paints a portrait of India skipper MS Dhoni and Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi outside Eden Gardens on the eve of Indo-Pak tie in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI
He said that "Kolkata has been very kind to us, both on and off the field", reminding subtly that Pakistan have got the better of India on almost all occasions at the Eden. "Also, we won our last game, and will be under less pressure," he added. "If we repeat the way we played the last match, we have the better chance."
Also Read: Super 10: Classic Indo-Pak cricket moments
Asked what he thought of Imad Wasim, the young left-arm spinner, Waqar chose to dwell more on his abilities as a No 7 batsman. He pointed to the Bangladesh game to brush aside suggestions that the Pakistan batting form was 'iffy'. "We scored 200 runs in that match, so I wouldn't say it's 'iffy'," he reminded.
Waqar said that Afridi's coming into his own with both bat and ball "was the real positive" from the Bangladesh game. Afridi, in the eye of a storm recently following his "more love in India than Pakistan" comment, scored a 19-ball 49 before grabbing two wickets.
Why isn't Shahid Afridi coming to media interactions of late? "May be, you guys are asking him too many tough questions," Waqar quipped.
MS Dhoni India
> Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan score big
> Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah provide early breakthroughs
> Shahid Afridi flops
Shahid Afridi Pakistan
> Opener Sharjeel Khan gets back to form
> Spinner R Ashwin ends up wicketless
> Pacer Mohammad Amir is bang on target