Pakistan on a good day too much for other teams, says Mudassar Nazar

Former Pakistan all-rounder Mudassar Nazar gives his take on Ravi Shastri's comment on the current Indian side, Sarfraz Ahmed's formidable bowling unit and more

In their previous meeting, Pakistan beat India in the Champions Trophy final in 2017.   -  Getty Images

Mudassar Nazar does not rate the current Indian team as the best in the last 15 years. Not subscribing to his ‘old friend’ Ravi Shastri’s views, the former Pakistan all-rounder comes up with a different argument — ‘this team must take a leaf out of Steve Waugh’s books’ to be considered the World No. 1.

“I don’t think (this team is the best in the last 15 years). This team has been very, very good and has done extremely well but in the last 15 years, there have been some top-class players for India,” Nazar told Sportstar from Lahore on Friday. “Under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, they had a formidable team. Even before that, India was difficult to beat.”

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The former all-rounder — considered one of the icons of Pakistan cricket – however, commends Virat Kohli’s side for being ‘quite successful’. “We have to commend this team because their performances have been really good, especially (of) two or three individuals. The only thing this team struggled was playing in English conditions. Its top order did not click and the English bowlers — with Anderson around — exploited that. But this team will be a force to reckon with in home conditions,” Nazar said.

Having coached Pakistan and UAE in the past, Nazar also has a fair idea about how to get the best out of a team, and keeping that in mind, he believes that Kohli should learn a thing or two from Waugh’s star-studded team. “If India wants to be the No.1 team in the world, they should take a leaf out of Steve Waugh’s book. Steve’s mantra was simple — to be considered No.1, the team must beat India at home. The same rule should apply for the Indian team as well. They need to be consistent away from home,” the 62-year-old said.

Kohli absence crucial

The former cricketer will be travelling to Dubai to witness the India-Pakistan clash in the Asia Cup next week, and he feels that India will miss its captain, Kohli. “I don’t know if it would be a boost for Pakistan, but India will definitely miss Kohli. If a player of his caliber is not playing then the team feels the loss and he is the best in the world today in all forms of the game,” Nazar said, quickly pointing out that stand-in skipper, Rohit Sharma will have to take charge in Kohli’s absence.

Ravi Shastri labelled the current Indian side as the 'best Indian team' in the last 15-20 years.   -  AFP

 

“There is Rohit Sharma, who can change the game any day. Then there is also Shikhar Dhawan. These two players can absolutely destroy the opponents. The Pakistan bowlers need to hold fort and dismiss these two quickly because if they get going, then it would be tough for them,” the seasoned coach added.

The last time the two sides met — in the Champions Trophy final in England last year — Sarfraz Ahmed’s side had the last laugh and this time too, Nazar is pinning his hopes on the Pakistan bowling attack. His go-to man is Hasan Ali, who is ranked world number two in the ICC bowlers' rankings. “Pakistan are a very balanced (side) and they have got variation as well. If we talk about Hasan Ali, his main weapon is variation in these types of wickets. He is the one who could take a lot of wickets. He comes in down the order, but as soon as he is there, the game changes because he takes wickets. The best way to keep runs under check is by taking wickets.”

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Then there is the 20-year-old Shadab Khan. “Though he has not been that of a threat to Indian team (as compared to other sides), he has been performing consistently. We have got Mohammad Amir with his pace and variation. If Pakistan has a good day, it could be too much for the other team,” Nazar said.

Not in a mood to predict a favourite, Nazar believes that both India and Pakistan should come out with an aggressive mindset. “Both the teams are going to be very aggressive. In such a high voltage clash, you cannot afford to be timid. You have to go for it. If you think of sitting back and controlling the game, that’s not going to happen. You must go at full throttle,” the former cricketer said.

No home advantage for Pakistan

But with Pakistan playing at the UAE regularly, will it get a bit of ‘home’ advantage?

But Nazar differs. “Indian pitches are not that different from Pakistani pitches. Interestingly, in Dubai, the wickets are prepared on soils from Pakistan. They are pretty much the same. Even Indian pitches are quite similar. The batsman will make hay and we all know how Indian batting line-up is. So, it is a competition between the bowlers. Whoever bowls well aggressively, will have the key (to success),” he said.

Former Pakistan all-rounder Mudassar Nazar.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

It also depends on how many bowlers the captains use. “If you are going for only five bowlers, then you are inviting trouble because there is so much heat and there will be someone or the other not living up to the expectation. In our time, we would go in for five bowlers and then I was kept as a back-up. Imran (Khan) or (Javed) Miandad had that cover in me. It is pretty hot in UAE at this time of the year, and teams need to be careful,” Nazar, who has previously worked with the UAE team, stated.

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The UAE will be hosting an India-Pakistan encounter after 12 long years, and having been part of many such high-voltage clashes in Sharjah in the past, Nazar knows what the players go through. “It is a pressure cooker. When you play in India, the crowd would support the home team. Similarly, when you play in Pakistan, we will have our own crowd supporting us. That was much easier to deal with. But in Sharjah, Indians and Pakistanis would sit next to each other and they would be vociferous,” he said, adding that if a player can handle this pressure, then he can make it big in any conditions.

With just four days to go for the big match, Nazar — like most of the cricket fans — is hoping for a mouth-watering clash between the arch-rivals.