CT final is bigger than Ashes, says Azhar Mahmood

The former Pakistan all-rounder and current bowling coach feels that it is time for his side to end India's dominance in ICC events.

Azhar Mahmood says he is not one for statistics but he knows some numbers rather well. Pakistan's head-to-head record against India in ODIs was 72-52, he pointed out at the Oval on Friday. However, Pakistan has never beaten India in the ICC World Cup, and both of its wins in the Champions Trophy (in 2004 and 2009) came in pool matches. It was time, the former Pakistan all-rounder and current bowling coach felt, to end India's dominance in ICC events.

India v Pakistan: It's 2-2 in Champions Trophy

"Overall, if you see our record, we’ve beaten India quite often. Definitely, they have had an upper hand in ICC tournaments, but now things have changed and this is the time for us to change the script," he said.

Pakistan's road to the Champions Trophy final

It wouldn't be a shock if Pakistan beat India, he stated. "We're playing good cricket. It won't be a shock. We were No.8 when we came in here and no one gave us credit. At the start, someone asked me who would be in the final, and I said Pakistan. Because I believe in my boys and if the boys can believe that, we can go and win this one."

Mohammad Amir has recovered from the back spasms that kept him out of the ICC Champions Trophy semifinal against England and is fit to play against India in the title clash on Sunday, according to Pakistan's bowling coach Azhar Mahmood. "He bowled today. He had no problem whatsoever. Back spasms take two days anyway. We'll definitely go with Amir, but we don't mind, if Amir is not fit and not playing, then we have Rumman Raees. Raees is a quality bowler as well and he showed in the semifinal on a big stage that he can do the job for us."

Hasan Ali had shaken off a calf niggle, Mahmood added. "He’s one of the best bowlers Pakistan have right now. He’s a wicket-taker, and the reason for our wins is that he comes in the middle period and takes wickets. We have an attacking option now with the old ball and new," he said.


Pakistan did not want to be known as an unpredictable side, Mahmood insisted. "We played against England last year, they got 440 against us but we beat them in Cardiff with good planning and the way the bowlers executed our plans. So it wasn't a surprise for us. That's why we're so unpredictable and that's why we have a lot of following. Because if we play good cricket we can beat any team. But we want to change that tag. When we're good we're very good but when we're bad we're very poor. We want to change that - me and Mickey Arthur and all the coaching staff, we want to bring those things together. Hopefully we can do that."

It would mean a lot to Pakistan to defeat India and win a trophy, Mahmood felt. "India refused to play against us; we're playing now on a bigger stage. It's like the Ashes; it's bigger than the Ashes. We haven't been playing cricket at home; this is an ICC event and we're ranked No.8. Two months back we were fighting to qualify for the World Cup and now if we win this one, it will be a great boost for us. It will be a good gift for the nation for Eid."