Thursday, February 29, 2024

Waqar Younis on World Cup contenders: ‘In terms of ticking boxes, no other team matches India, even Pakistan’

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Pakistan is scheduled to face India in their league stage match on October 14 at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium.

With the 2023 ODI World Cup just days away, former Pakistan cricketer and tournament winner, Waqar Younis, has placed India as the favorites to clinch the title for the third time.

“If we focus on the checklist, it’s clear that no other team can match India, not even Pakistan or any other side right now. India possesses an exceptional spin bowling lineup, which includes not only the current starting XI spinners like Kuldeep and Jadeja but also a strong bench,” Waqar told Star Sports. “In the event of injuries, the players on the bench, given their excellent current form, cannot be ignored.”

Waqar also discussed the challenges facing the Pakistan team, led by Babar Azam, with the loss of pace sensation Naseem Shah due to injury.

“The new ball has always been crucial for us, not only in this World Cup but in all matches. Over the years, it has been a critical factor, including past World Cups. When we used to take wickets with the new ball, it gave us momentum and put us in a better position in the game. So, Naseem Shah’s absence is a significant loss for Pakistan. Although Hasan Ali has been named as his replacement, he is experienced and has delivered outstanding performances in the past. However, performing suddenly on such a big stage won’t be easy for him,” Waqar remarked.

Regarding the highly anticipated India-Pakistan league stage match scheduled for October 14 at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium, Waqar stated that India’s favored status doesn’t diminish the importance of the fixture.

“It will be the biggest game, the mother of all games. When you play in Ahmedabad, which boasts one of the world’s largest and finest stadiums, you must control your nerves. Pakistan will be under pressure as the weaker team compared to India, but India will also be under pressure due to the crowd in the stadium, creating pressure on both teams, thereby balancing the pressure in the game. However, if we evaluate purely based on team performance, India is undoubtedly the stronger team,” said the 51-year-old cricket legend.

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