India must not entertain thoughts that they will start as favourites in the marquee World Cup clash against Pakistan, warn legends Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar.
Ganguly said the Indian team perhaps made the mistake of taking Pakistan lightly in the 2017 Champions Trophy final.
“India need to be very careful; don’t go into this game thinking they are favourites. I think they did that the last time in 2017 in the ICC Champions Trophy final and Pakistan beat them hands down. It’s going to be a great game of cricket,” added Ganguly.
Tendulkar also said India could not afford to take their archrivals 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 will want to be 100 per cent sure of what we are doing, and it has to be well thought and well planned,” said Tendulkar.
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”.
“People get a bit carried away, and excited with this game, so from that point of view it’s going to be a huge game in Manchester on Sunday,” said Ganguly. “My first trip as a captain against Pakistan in 2003 - we had never won there before, but then we won both the Test Matches and ODIs. My memories of playing against Pakistan have been happy times for India.”
Ganguly also feels that handling pacer Mohammed Amir will be key for India.
“In this team, Amir was nowhere in the picture. They had dropped him, but he comes back and takes up the role as 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 former Indian captain said.
“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.