Misbah-ul-Haq (centre) in a lighter mood
PAKISTAN need to keep control of their emotions in Sunday (February 15)‘s high-octane clash with India if they are to put an end to a string of World Cup defeats against their arch-rivals, captain Misbah-ul-Haq said on Saturday (February 14).
Much to the dismay of their supporters, Pakistan have never won a match against their bitter neighbours at the World Cup, suffering five defeats dating back to 1992. That despite winning 72 of the other 121 One Day Internationals played against their old foes.
Adding to the pressure of the on-field rivalry will be the buzz around the game, with a 47,000-strong crowd presence at the Adelaide Oval Stadium and an expected television audience of over one billion.
“India-Pakistan is always all about pressure,” the 40-year-old Misbah, who was part of the team that lost the 2011 World Cup semi-final to India, told reporters.
“The best thing we can do is just enjoy the game, enjoy the atmosphere, go there, play your game, be positive, and that’s the way how it is.
“I think if you could just go there and play your natural game, that’s how you can handle the pressure well, and that’s my advice to the team.”
Misbah said his team mates should also try and forget the hype of the occasion back home.
“I think it is the way to go, that you just don’t take anything into the ground when you are playing against India - you don’t have to worry about what is happening outside, what has been going on in the countries,” he said.
“It’s a big opportunity for the team and the players that we put in our full effort and try and win this match. That could create history.”
Pakistan came to Australia with their spin spearhead Saeed Ajmal suspended for an illegal bowling action and were dealt more blows when fast bowlers Umar Gul and Junaid Khan and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez were ruled out due to injury.
But the skipper was not dwelling on absentees.
“Obviously senior players, experienced players and good performers are key to your team’s success, but this is how life goes on,” added Misbah, who will retire from the 50-over format after the World Cup.
“Unfortunately injuries are part and parcel of your life. You should just focus on what you’ve got, and you need to believe that whatever you’ve got, that is the best.”