There is still a good number of days left before the much-awaited clash between India and Pakistan in ICC Champions Trophy takes place but former players from across the border have already started the war of words.
Team India, the reigning Champions Trophy champions, will begin their title defence, taking on their arch-rivals Pakistan on June 4 in Edgbaston. The former India skipper, Sourav Ganguly, feels that the Virat Kohli-led side will dominate the Sarfraz Ahmed-led side in the upcoming high-voltage encounter.
History has been in India’s favour with the Men in Blue enjoying an 11-0 record against Pakistan in World Cups — 50 overs and T20 formats. However, the team from across the border has the upper hand in the Champions Trophy with a 2-1 win-loss ratio in their favour. But the last time the two teams met in the eight-team tournament, the team India had thrashed Pakistan by 8 wickets and Ganguly is confident of a similar performance from Virat Kohli’s men.
“India will beat Pakistan again in Champions Trophy,” Ganguly told India Today.
“In the last eight to 10 years there has been a massive difference in the quality between India and Pakistan and that has been one of the major reasons why India have continued to dominate Pakistan (in ICC events). I believe India will do it again in the Champions Trophy in Birmingham on June 4,” he said.
Ganguly further admitted that the Men in Green were the superior side in the early 90s and the early years of the new millennium due to the presence of players like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq. However, the former batsman feels the power has now shifted towards the Indian team since the mid of the last decade.
“In the early part of the 90s and even in early 2000s, it is just that India played better than Pakistan in world tournaments because there was not much difference between the two sides. The Pakistan team was a fantastic unit with the likes of Wasim (Akram), Waqar (Younis), Inzamam (ul-Haq), Saeed Anwar, Javed Miandad and Salim Malik,” Ganguly said.
“But 2005 onwards, the Pakistan team has not been the same as it used to be. They have lost to India in quality, they have lost to India on ability and somehow India have reacted to big match pressure much better than Pakistan,” he added.
Ganguly backed his claim by saying that the technique of the Indian players has been better than their Pakistani counterparts.
“The technique and quality of Indian players have been better than Pakistan’s. You see, in Pakistan, there is rare brilliance but every time they have been under pressure, they have tried to fight or hit their way out of pressure, which has not worked for them. But every time you see India under pressure, they are a team, which would seem have soaked in the pressure. They have batted and played difficult situations well and then have dominated,” said Ganguly.
On the other hand, former Pakistan skipper and current chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq is hopeful that his team would turn the tables this time around.
“We don’t have a great record against India in major events but every day is a new day and I am sure the players will perform well in the first match. The June 4 game is very important for us, not only because it is against India, but also because it will go a long way in helping us qualify for the semi-finals. Our team is quite balanced and has a nice blend of youthful exuberance and experience,” Inzamam told The Express Tribune.