Pakistan must bring their A game against India and take early wickets

By Waqar Younis, June 14, 2019: When Pakistan play India it’s always a huge game, but their meeting on Sunday is shaping up to be more crucial than ever.

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.

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

What I have seen in this World Cup so far is that if you don’t pick up early wickets, you’re in trouble. The new ball is so crucial and openers are being more careful in the first ten overs this year.

They’re not really going full throttle, they are being a bit more watchful. Once you don’t lose any wickets early on, it becomes easier because the ball doesn’t swing and batting becomes easier.

It was with the new ball, in both batting and bowling, that I felt Pakistan missed a trick in their entertaining defeat to Australia at Taunton.

Early on, we were not really sharp enough and Sarfaraz Ahmed was not on his toes. Mohammad Amir didn’t get any support from the other end.

No-one really saw the comeback coming and for that, you have to take your hat off to Amir. Full marks to him for the way he bowled.

Even with the new ball, I thought he bowled quite nicely. He could have picked up more than five wickets in the end. He was unfortunate with a couple of nicks early on.

Pakistan pulled it back very nicely. They were sharp after 25 overs and started picking up wickets. They found the right lengths.

Amir bowled superbly. He showed us all his cutters, variations and short pitched deliveries ( Pakistan play India).

I think we all know Amir is mentally very, very strong. He showed once again that class is permanent – he is no doubt a match-winner.

Dealing with short bowling again proved an issue for the batsmen. It’s been a real problem for them on this tour.

I felt they managed it well against England but not against West Indies, only to get exposed again by Australia. They haven’t quite figured it out yet.

The batsmen are such good players, they just need to avoid playing into the hands of the opposition with some of the shots they play.

It may be that Mickey Arthur looks at changing the team for Sunday. I spoke to Mickey in Taunton and he is thinking in terms of horses for courses, and I agree with him to an extent.

The pitch there was good for pacers and he rightly went with four of them. The issue was not the nature of the plan, but the execution.

Shadab is the key man in this side and I think they will look to bring him back in against India. They might go for five bowlers, use four pacers and Shadab and drop someone like Shoaib Malik.

It depends a lot on what conditions are like in Manchester, up to a few hours before the game.

Going from a defeat to playing the old rivalry against India isn’t going to be easy. India probably watched the Australia game very closely and know what needs to be done.

Pakistan need to lift themselves up and I hope they bring their best on Sunday. —- Credit © ICC

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