WT20: Don't be afraid of India today, Imran Khan tells Pakistan
Former skipper Imran Khan wants Pakistan to play fearless cricket against their arch rivals Dhoni & Co in the opening game of the World Twent20 tournament that begins in Bangladesh today
Karachi: Imran Khan and Javed Miandad can easily be dubbed as the two men who changed the mentality of Pakistan cricket.
Pakistan players jog during the training session in Dhaka yesterday. PIC/AFP and (Inset) Imran Khan
Just as Sourav Ganguly brought about a change in the attitude of the Indian team, the two former Pakistan captains are credited with installing self belief and a never-say-die spirit in the national team which culminated in Pakistan's famous World Cup win in 1992.
From just being satisfied with holding big brother teams like Australia, West Indies or England to draws, the Pakistan team under the patronage and supervision of Imran and Miandad learnt that nothing is more satisfying in sports than winning.
Afridi's the man: Imran
Their spirit and attitude towards the game remains the same even today. "If you go into a big match against India afraid, you will lose," Imran warned in an interview to mid-day.
The cricketer turned politician despite his hectic schedule said he was looking forward to the Pakistan-India clash in the World T20 today.
"When I led the side and whenever we played India or any strong side I always told the players to go out with the belief you can win the match... any team which is afraid of losing will face defeat.
"On Friday, Pakistan's team should go out thinking they can win the match. We have a more balanced and experienced side than the Indians. And I see Shahid Afridi playing an influential role in this game," Imran said.
An aggressive approach
He added that Pakistan cricket was always at its best when playing aggressively. "This policy always worked for us against India. And in T20 cricket there is no other way to play."
Miandad echoed similar feelings as Imran. "India lost more to us when Imran was captain because he always pushed the players not be scared of defeat.
Our present outfit is rich with talent but at times I get the feeling they try to suppress their natural instincts and in a high pressure game like the one on Friday, this is a dangerous approach," Miandad told mid-day.
The former captain and coach pointed out that if both sides played with an open mind, today's game should be a high-scoring one.
"Conditions in Bangladesh are ideal for T20 cricket and both teams have some fantastic players for this format. Pakistan shouldn't be thinking about India's strong batting.
They should be focussing on how to exploit India's apparent weak links in their bowling. Definitely, the win over them in the Asia Cup will play on India's mind even though they have Dhoni back as captain and Yuvraj as well."
Pakistan were soundly beaten in Wednesday's warm up game by South Africa but another Pakistani great, Inzamam-ul-Haq didn't read much into the result.
"I can assure you the attitude of our players will be very different when they play India. I wouldn't read much into this defeat," Inzamam said.