MUMBAI (Reuters) – Pakistan go into cricket matches against arch-rivals India feeling like the weaker team these days, former fast bowling ace Waqar Younis has said following Sunday’s World Cup encounter.
India extended their unblemished World Cup record against their South Asian neighbours to 7-0, Virat Kohli’s men securing an 89-run win via the Duckworth-Lewis method in a stop-start match at Manchester that drew a massive global audience.
“In the last few years, there’s been a massive difference India and Pakistan – and again it showed at Old Trafford on Sunday,” former Pakistan captain Younis wrote in a column for the International Cricket Council.
“We had good sides in the 1990s, but now I think this India team intimidates Pakistan. When Pakistan teams head into these games, they are always under pressure and feel like they’re the weaker team,” said Younis, who has also coached Pakistan.
“That culture needs to change first, and then the fitness level needs to match the Indian players.”
Organisers received nearly 800,000 applications for tickets at the 23,000-capacity Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester to watch the former champions, who only play each other in global tournaments because of their soured political relations.
The nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours have gone to war three times since independence in 1947 and cricket matches between the two countries are considered among the most intense sporting rivalries on the planet.
While Pakistan boast a superior head-to-head record against India in one-day internationals overall the men in blue have dominated recent clashes.
Sunday’s defeat left Pakistan ninth in the 10-team standings with three points from five matches but their next opponents South Africa have not fared much better and are only one spot above in the table.
Younis, 47, a reverse swing master in his playing days, believes the 1992 champions can still resurrect their campaign.
“The good thing is Pakistan now have one week off before the next game against South Africa,” he said. “They’ll have time to go back and reflect on the mistakes that have been made, and what needs to change.
“The South Africans are also down, so it’s a match between two teams that have not really justified their potential yet.
“All is not lost, despite the blow of this latest defeat. I feel that if Pakistan win all four games, there’s still a chance they go through.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford)