World Cup 2019: On the eve of India’s clash against Pakistan, the legendary Wasim Akram and former India coach Gary Kirsten believe India are favourites to win the game, but Pakistan have an outside chance too
Wasim Akram and Gary Kirsten laid open their minds and hearts in an exclusive chat ahead of India vs Pakistan in World Cup 2019
India and Pakistan are set for a high-octane face-off in cloudy Manchester later today. While fans and experts over the world are busy taking sides and picking favourites, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram and 2011 World Cup-winning Indian coach Gary Kirsten spoke exclusively to India Today ahead of the marquee game.
When Akram was asked to choose a favourite among the two teams, which he believes will win the tie, the fast-bowler replied by saying that though his heart backs Pakistan, his head goes with India, owing to their favourable World Cup record against their arch-rivals.
“It is a big game, the game of the World Cup as we call it. Mother of all games. I am relaxed as I am not playing. My heart says Pakistan but the mind says India are definitely the favourites to win the game. You’ll hardly see locals in the stadium and it will be filled with fans from the countries.
“Absolutely India are favourites. The way they have played, controlled the game against Australia with their batting depth and bowling variations and variety. And of course, fielding has been phenomenal, something rarely seen in subcontinental sides and that is because they are physically very fit,” said Akram.
Kirsten too concurred with Akram as far as India holding the upper hand are concerned but advised against taking Pakistan lightly.
“I think Akram is spot on. I think India have a lot of match winners in their team and they have got a lot of guys that you might not expect to do something that they can. Let’s not forget about Pakistan, we know that they do really well in World Cups. We know that they won a final here against India just 2 years ago which might play mentally on the mind of India as well. These games are so intense and often it can come down to one or two really good performances from Pakistan to put pressure on India,” said Kirsten.
With rain expected to play some part in the game, Akram was asked about his opinions on the issue which has already seen 4 games being washed out already in World Cup 2019.
“I used to call it ‘rain-chester’. When you play county after 2 years you pray for rain as a player. But we can’t control rain and players should be mentally ready realising that we have to play,” explained Akram.