Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood has called on his side’s players to see the upcoming Champions Trophy clash against India as a great opportunity for them to shine and become heroes.
Fans from both nations have marked their calendars for June 4 when the two arch-rivals take on each other in their group clash.
Recalling his debut against India, Azhar said that he headed into the clash thinking that if he manages to perform well against their arch-rivals he could become a hero.
“These matches are a great opportunity for players to shine and become heroes whether they are a veteran or a newcomer. I remember my debut against India and I thought this is the time for me to perform and I thought that if I can perform in this game, then I can become a hero. There is never a dull moment in these matches wherever the match is played and whoever holds their nerve and whoever can take the pressure will come out as the winner,” PakPassion.net quoted Azhar, as saying.
The 42-year-old, who retired from international cricket in 2007, insisted that although India have a strong batting line-up, his side’s bowling attack could pose a big challenge against the Virat Kohli-led side.
“Expectations are always huge and it’s a game which is usually won in the mind. India’s batting is strong and our bowling is strong. So, it promises to be a great occasion with both teams standing a good chance of winning,” he said.
Azhar Mahmood also expressed his views on paceman Hasan Ali, who has been included in the 15-member squad for the Champions Trophy, beginning June 1 in England and Wales.
Admitting that Hasan has the ‘perfect attitude’ which is required to become a successful player, Azhar said that the pacer’s willingness to perform well for his team reminds him of his own international career.
“I like this guy’s attitude. He wants to play, he wants to learn, he wants to do well and he wants to perform well for the team and for himself. He has the perfect attitude and exactly the attitude you want from your players. When I first saw him bowling in the first edition of the Pakistan Super League, he reminded me so much of myself when I came into international cricket,” Azhar said.
Azhar, however, said that the team are working on his run-up so that he could deliver more positive results in the coming future.
“We are working on a few things with him and I am sure we will see more positive results from him in the future. We are looking to reduce his run-up as he over-accelerates sometimes. His run-up was 86 feet which we reduced to 80 feet in the West Indies and we will be looking to cut it down a bit more so he gets more momentum towards the crease rather than decreasing his speed as he approaches the crease. If this works then I think he will bowl quicker,” he added.
Pakistan are slated to play two warm-up games in Birmingham before their clash against India — taking on Bangladesh on May 27 before facing world champions Australia on May 29.
They will also attend a week-long training camp from the third week of May in Birmingham to prepare for the eight-team event, beginning June 1 in England and Wales.
The tournament will also provide Pakistan a great chance to further consolidate their position in the top eight ODI sides as they look to qualify directly for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.