12/07/2022
India must counter Pakistan left-arm pacer Shaheeh Shah Afridi in an aggressive manner and not just look to see him off in their T20 World Cup opener, former cricketer Gautam Gambhir said on Wednesday.

India will take on arch-rivals on October 23 in Melbourne. Afridi, who is returning from a knee injury that ruled him out of the Asia Cup, is expected to pose a serious threat to the Indian batters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the upcoming T20 showpiece.

“When it comes to Shaheen Afridi, don’t look to survive. Look to score runs from him. Because the moment you look to survive, everything becomes really small. Whether it’s your backlift, whether it’s your footwork, and obviously, in T20 cricket you can’t look to survive,” Gambhir said while speaking on Star Sports show ‘Game Plan’.

“I know that he can be dangerous with the new ball, but again, irrespective, the Indian batters need to score more runs, get into better positions, and look to time the balls rather than to hit it.

“India will be fine because India has got the quality in their top 3 or 4 who can definitely take on Shaheen Shah Afridi,” the former world T20 winner added.

Gambhir’s former teammate and former left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan said Indian batters need to play smartly at the iconic MCG. “When you play at the MCG, the straight boundaries are not that big. It’s the side boundaries that are massive. Obviously, India need to be smart, especially the batting.

“Probably, it will be difficult to hit the side boundaries, so they have to play the gaps and probably convert the twos into threes and ones into twos, because running between the wickets will be very important,” he suggested.

Irfan also had advise for Indian bowlers against the likes of Pakistan captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. “Don’t give them any width whatsoever, especially Rizwan, because he’s the guy who takes the Powerplay on his shoulders. Just try to get the pace going. Babar takes his time. So, you need to be aware of those situations and those batters,” he said.

“The line has to be on the stumps, with tight lines. And with both batters, the length changes slightly. When it comes to Rizwan, you can afford to bowl more fuller. You can try to hit him beneath the knee roll. This is where your line and length can be.

“And when it comes to Babar Aazam, you need to get him out LBW, but your aim should not be on his front leg, it should be behind his leg because he’s slightly open. This is where Arshdeep and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar come in with that in-swinging delivery,” Irfan added.