Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar.
Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar. Image Credit: X

The runners-up of the last ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022, Pakistan are coming into their second game of the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024, against India, on the back of their heart-breaking defeat against co-host United States of America (USA) at the Grand Prairie Stadium, in Dallas. The former pacer, Shoaib Akhtar feels that a defeat could hamper the team’s future.

India is coming into this clash on the back of their dominating performance in their opening game of the competition, against Ireland, on June 05, whom the blue brigade handed a seven-wicket victory, with almost eight overs to spare.

Pakistan, on the other hand, looked clueless with the decisions in the field, besides struggling in the batting, bowling and fielding- all three departments of the game. The captain Babar Azam didn’t look to be in touch as he managed 44 runs in 43 balls, Azam Khan is feeling the heat after a tough start in the competition.

‘If they lose from here and the USA beat Ireland, then…’ – Shoaib Akhtar

Pakistan’s bowling too was under serious pressure, as they lacked a bit of common sense in the middle. Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Mohammad Amir bowled well with the bat, and even during the end overs, but Haris Rauf was nailed all around the park.

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Shadab Khan batted quite beautifully for his 40 runs in 25 balls, which offered the team important momentum towards the middle overs of the innings, especially when Babar was struggling to find his mojo back. But the concern is on Shadab’s bowling too, where he was smacked for 27 runs in three overs.

The Pakistan coach Gary Kirsten has declared veteran left-arm spinner Imad Wasim fit to play, but there are clouds on how would he react after an injury lay-off.

Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar points out that the teams who finish at the bottom of the table in these T20 tournaments, generally need to take part in the qualifiers for the next edition of the T20 World Cups, and if Pakistan need to go to that stage, it will be the biggest shame in the history of the cricket.

This pans out how under pressure the ‘Men in Green’ have been to not only make a comeback in the competition but also in an order to establish their own cricket.

“If they lose from here and USA beat Ireland, then Pakistan will have to play the World Cup Qualifiers against Namibia and others next year for the 2026 World Cup. There can be no bigger shame than that. But they will have to play out of their skins to make a comeback

“Hopefully, Babar can create some magic tomorrow. It will be challenging, but there is a chance. If they can beat India, the rest will be easy, and they will cruise through with extra motivation,” Former Pakistan fast-bowler Shoaib Akhtar expressed in a video on his YouTube channel.

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“India is one of the strongest teams and is a contender in winning the World Cup. It will be tough for Pakistan. However, there is a silver lining. I won’t let fans get disappointed too much because the two teams will play on drop-in pitches.  

“Despite India’s advantages, the word is that the ball is seaming a lot and kicking through. So, Pakistan has a chance. Trust me. Where ever we are down and out, Pakistan has always made a comeback. They need to play with a bit of daleri,” Rawalpindi Express’ Shoaib Akhtar remarked.

They will lock horns with India on June 09, at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, in New York.