India must not entertain thoughts that they would start favourites in the highly-anticipated World Cup clash against Pakistan, warned India greats Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar.
Ganguly said the Indian team perhaps made the mistake of taking Pakistan lightly in the 2017 Champions Trophy final and finished on the losing side.
“India needs to be very careful, don’t go into this game thinking they are the favourites. I think they did that the last time in 2017 in the ICC Champions Trophy finals, and Pakistan beat them hands down. It’s going to be a great game of cricket,” Ganguly as an expert for Star Sports, said ahead of the game on Sunday.
Tendulkar also said that India cannot afford to take the traditional rivals lightly.
“Pakistan has always been unpredictable, and they are a dangerous side - so there is no way the Indian team is going to take them lightly. Every step that the Indian team takes forward, we would want to be 100% sure of what we are doing, and it is well thought and well planned,” he said.
The hype and interest an India-Pakistan cricket match generates is surreal and both Tendukar and Ganguly agreed that “it is more than just a cricket match”.
Ganguly also felt that handling pacer Mohammed Amir will be key for India.
“In this World Cup 2019 team, Amir was nowhere in the picture. They had dropped him, he comes back and takes up being the leading fast bowler in the squad. That’s what you get from a side like Pakistan.”
Anil Kumble, another Indian stalwart, said since the two teams do not play each other quite often, it leads to building up a bit of “drama”.
“If you have to win the World Cup you have to consistently beat teams, and India-Pakistan matches have always been marquee events. ICC knows that; as soon as they opened out the schedule and ticketing, within 15 minutes the match was sold out and that’s the importance of an India-Pakistan match.
“The World Cup comes once in four years, making the match all that more important. For a player, it’s another match, you still must do your skill sets well, you still have to bowl well, and take those catches, that’s something the Indian team will be focused on,” said Kumble.
With PTI inputs