Former Australian opener Matthew Hayden wants India skipper Rohit Sharma to negotiate Pakistan pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi`s first three overs with “caution” to avoid a fate similar to the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE.
Rohit was dismissed for a first-ball duck by a searing Afridi yorker which bent marginally inwards to beat the opener all ends up.
India suffered a humiliating 10-wicket loss in the group match and could never bounce back from the defeat in the 2021 edition.
Hayden felt a “conservative” approach against Afridi was the right way to handle the tall Pakistan quick.
“You`ve got to be conservative against Shaheen Afridi. Remember back to the (T20) World Cup (in the UAE in 2021) more recently. Shaheen was able to take early wickets,” Hayden told Star Sports.
“We`ll never forget that ball that he bowled to Rohit Sharma, so a little bit of caution against Shaheen Afridi. If it`s swinging, look to play out those first three overs,” Hayden advised the India skipper.
Virat Kohli, who was leading the side in 2021, was the highest run-getter for India scoring a 49-ball 57, coming in at his usual No.3 spot.
Terming the clash of the arch-rivals as the “spiciest competition” in world cricket, Hayden also said India batters will also have to guard against the extra bounce the likes of Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah could generate.
“India is playing against Pakistan`s pace trio. This is one of the spiciest competitions on the planet. We`ve got Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Naseem (Shah). Three very different types of bowlers and unique bowlers, which require unique plans from Team India.
“Firstly, the conditions here in Kandy tend to have quite a lot of bounce, so you`ve got to watch that out, especially Haris Rauf. He`ll want to really hustle in and hit the top of off stump.
“And I think with Naseem, even though he will shape the ball, Pakistan can be in a position to advance forward with India managing to take them out of play by aggressive plays against someone like Naseem,” said Hayden.
Hayden, though said that putting Naseem under pressure early on could put India in a winning position.
“Put him (Naseem) under pressure, feel like you are in front of the game. All in all, though, I think it`s going to be Team India that`s going to win. I think they`ve got a deeper, classier batting lineup, and I think they`ve got form on the board as well.”
Former India cricketer and coach Sanjay Bangar added that Virat Kohli would be itching to have a go at the Pakistan team after his heroics in the 2022 T20 World Cup.
Chasing 160 in a group match at Melbourne, Kohli unleased his full force to score an unbeaten 82 off 53 balls to help India defeat Pakistan on the last ball in an edge-of-the-seat thriller.
“Virat is ready for the greatest rivalry in world cricket. The last time these two nations played (2022 T20 World Cup), Virat came out with a special innings, and that shot versus Haris Rauf will be etched in the memories of cricket lovers for a long, long time.
“Now, what has Virat Kohli done in the last six to eight months? How has he come out of a little bit of a bad patch wherein he wasn`t scoring big runs? But now he has got into that habit of scoring big runs again.”
Bangar added Kohli`s habit of allowing the ball to come to him will help him in a big way against the likes of Afridi.
“He is setting up really nice and early, staying still, allowing the ball to come to him. That is one aspect which is going to help him big time, especially against Shaheen (Afridi) because he gets the ball to swing in late.
“And if we are watching the ball, letting it come to you, you can actually play it down the ground or play it to mid-on or mid-wicket region; that is where his (Kohli`s) strength is,” said Bangar.
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