What I would like to see is another exciting contest and whoever wins in Adelaide, fans should treat it as a loss on sporting field and nothing else. I would like to see the Pakistan versus India rivalry more on the cricketing field and the only way going forward is by improving our cricketing relations – both on and off the field.
While it’s tough to pick a winner of the 15 February encounter, Pakistan's loss of Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal through injuries and suspension, respectively, is a huge setback. Considering the depth in India’s batting lineup with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane and Mahendra Dhoni, their big batting pillars, Umar and Saeed could have been proved handy for Pakistan. Without these two, I can now only hope that Mohammad Hafeez clears his retest as Pakistan needs experienced bowlers against what is sure to be a highly-experienced India batting line-up.
India’s recent 2-0 Test defeat in Australia will count for nothing in defence of its ICC Cricket World Cup title. In fact, it will be more acclimatised and have more knowhow of the pitches than the Pakistan team. The India cricket board did its homework well by scheduling its team's tour to Australia before the all-important event. Players need time to adjust to the conditions and pitches in countries like Australia and New Zealand, and the India team has grabbed that added advantage.
Remember, we also went to Australia in 1992 a month before the World Cup. We didn't win a single warm-up or practice match, but the experience of playing on various pitches helped our players when it mattered most in crucial matches.
Pakistan hasn’t played in Australia for quite some time now.
Misbah-ul-Haq, Younus Khan, Shahid Afridi and Ahmed Shehzad need to adjust quickly in a short time. We need big scores, keeping in mind the bowling resources we have and I feel nothing less than 300-325 could challenge India’s strong batting. In one-day cricket, not all of the top six batsmen have to score. What Pakistan should not forget is it needs, at least, two of its top-order batsmen to score heavily and then the rest could chip in with 30s and 40s to give the scoreboard a solid look.
Pakistan should also forget the horror stats of having never beaten India in a World Cup match. In fact, what it should remember is that we lost against it in 1992 too, but it was us who lifted the World Cup trophy at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Pakistan should not get sidetracked in case the result doesn't go in its favour on 15 February. The focus should be to win the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015!
Playing and winning the first match in any big tournament gives a team an added confidence, but it doesn't guarantee you a place in the final. Similarly, for the losing side, it doesn't mean the end of the tournament. In fact, the loss should push you to do more, and better, in the remaining games of the tournament.
I would love to see good gestures from players of both teams and send out a strong message around the world that we love to play against each other. I know the tempers could flare up in the heat of the moment, but I do hope the captains of both sides will lead by example and there will be no nasty incident on the field during the course of what is expected to be an engrossing battle between the bat and the ball.
In the end, one team has to win and the other has to finish on a losing side. There should be no hard feelings. I have been part of a number of India versus Pakistan matches played with tremendous intensity and emotions. As a professional cricketer, I believe your country should always come first. Nobody likes to lose, but if you don't lose, it won't make you a better player.