It has traditionally been a battle between India’s batting and Pakistan’s bowling whenever the arch-rivals have met on a cricket field and Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi reckons the trend will continue in their World Twenty20 contest on Saturday.
Pakistan were the last team to land in India, putting aside safety concerns that led to the switching of their match against India from Dharamsala to Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
With the uncertainty around their participation finally over, Afridi had no doubts that the onus, as always, will be on the Pakistani bowlers to trump an Indian lineup teeming with match-winners.
“I think this has been the case over the last 60 years,” the all-rounder told reporters in Kolkata.
Pakistan, who begin their Super 10 campaign on Wednesday against the winner of Sunday’s qualifier between Bangladesh and Oman, have never beaten India in a World Cup.
Afridi was confident that his bowling unit, bolstered by paceman Mohammad Amir’s return from a fixing ban, can help break the jinx with a slightly improved performance from their inconsistent batting colleagues.
“Our bowling attack is pretty good. You have Mohammad Amir and (Mohammad) Irfan. (Mohammad) Sami is also back and then there is Wahab Riaz. The fast bowling attack overall is very strong.
“If our batsmen, according to team plans, can give us a defendable total, I’m confident (the bowlers can clinch it).
“We also have two quality spinners in Imad Wasim and Mohammad Nawaz. If you look at the entire bowling unit, I’m very confident (of doing well),” said Afridi, who tops the wicket-takers’ list in the shortest format with 93 scalps.
The leg-spinner was also enthused by Pakistan’s record at Eden Gardens, where they have prevailed in all four matches against India.
“We have good memories of the ground,” Afridi said. “We have played well at this ground, we know the conditions and the pitch suits us as well.”
Afridi denied the uncertainty over their participation was a distraction for his team and said he always enjoyed playing in India.
“In very few countries I enjoyed cricket more than I did in India,” the 36-year-old said.
“I would always remember the love my team and I got from the fans here.
“We got a lot of love here, we did not get this much love even in Pakistan, I can tell you. We always enjoyed playing here.”