KOLKATA: As Shahid Afridi’s team gear up for Saturdays clash with pre-tournament favourites India at the Eden Gardens, former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara says Pakistan “looks very dangerous” and should not be written off.
“I think it’s going to be very tight [game]and could be a classic,” Sangakkara wrote in his syndicated column on Friday. “Pakistan looks very dangerous to me after their win against Bangladesh.”
In an obvious reference to Pakistan’s no-win record against India in World Cups, Sangakkara warns that “reputation and form provides no protection in an event where there so many dangerous teams.”
The key, he says, is not losing early wickets. “When they take early wickets, which they often do, it gives India the upper hand,” said Sanga, as the wicket-keeper batsman is popularly known.
“If Pakistan don’t lose those early wickets, it will be easier for them in the middle overs,” said the second-highest run-scorer in ODIs and the fifth-highest in Tests.
Sangakkara said Pakistan to their credit have “a good all-round team” with the opening combination of Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad looking more settled than previously.
Moreover, Mohammad Hafeez at No 3 was “really good”, and the “evergreen” Afridi looked “rejuvenated”, the Lankan great said.
“His presence is one of the reasons that Pakistan have the luxury of a very balanced bowling attack that includes quality spin and also a dangerous pace attack.”
But Sangakkara also warns against complacency, maintaining that while India’s bowling attack may be less balanced it was nevertheless “still strong”.
“They have the strongest batting line-up in the tournament and they will be very upset with how they struggled against New Zealand’s inexperienced spinners,” he said.
Given that the Indians are smarting following their humiliating defeat, Sangakkara said MS Dhoni’s boys “have the quality and character to bounce back really strongly.”