New Delhi, Sep 1: Ahead of the much-anticipated Asia Cup encounter between arch rivals India and Pakistan, former cricketer Mohammed Kaif shared valuable insights on how Men In Blue can stand up against Pakistan star pacer Shaheen Afridi's formidable pace and swing.
Kaif emphasized the significance of the initial overs and maintaining a composed approach in the early stages of the match.
“You can practice all you want but on the day of the match, that experience of seeing Shaheen Afridi take his ball, do his swing, and his speed, cannot be recreated in practice. It is good to practice, of course, but that same impression cannot be made. You still need to make the effort, and try to figure out the technique but Shaheen Afridi throwing the ball, walking or running the distance can not be done at practice" Kaif told Disney+ Hotstar.
Highlighting that India has faced early setbacks when facing Pakistan, often losing key wickets in the initial overs, Kaif said that top order batters will need to be particularly careful against pace sensation, who is known for his swing bowling and ability to take early wickets.
"Whenever India has lost it was in the first few overs after KL Rahul or Rohit Sharma got out. But I believe if they survive the 3rd or 4th over without losing a wicket, then the match is going to change. After that, you have a strong India team with Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, and Ravindra Jadeja, who can finish well. The main role is the 3 overs as the bowl swings more, the team needs to tackle that. That's their big challenge for the openers and Virat Kohli," Kaif said.
As India prepares to lock horns with Pakistan on September 2, Kaif also hinted that upcoming match is going to be a Virat Kohli Vs Babar Azam showdown.
“Virat Kohli is an in-form batsman and the two great batsmen will be seen facing each other. It is a best vs best where 57 is the batting average of Virat Kohli, and 59 is of Babar Azam. Oh god! Babar Azam has surpassed Kohli, so this is going to be a big match on September 2.
If we analyse, there 94 is of Virat and 89 of Babar. In terms of centuries, as far as I know, Virat has 46 to his name and Babar has 19. However, Babar has played fewer matches and Virat has played more, but he has 46 centuries there!" said Kaif.
As the cricket world eagerly anticipates the India-Pakistan clash, Kaif's strategic insights may prove valuable for Team India as they prepare to face Afridi's fierce bowling on Saturday at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Pallekele.
Cricket lovers can stream all Asia Cup 2023 LIVE and Exclusive matches on Disney+ Hotstar, free on mobile, and also broadcast on Star Sports Network. (IANS)