(MENAFN -Khaleej Times) cricketers from both countries have performed under unnerving pressure from unforgiving fans who often did not care how the team performed as long as they won the battle against the arch-rivals
Pakistan captain mohammad hafeez attends a training session on thursday; and hafeez’s indian counterpart mahendra singh dhoni gestures to a teammate during the team’s practice session. — ap
The indo-pak cricket rivalry traditionally lived up to the orwellian concept of serious sport — war minus shooting — but india captain mahendra singh dhoni is glad the tension has finally eased. the bitter south asian rivals have fought three wars in their brief independent histories and remain deeply mistrustful of each other.
Cricketers from both countries have performed under unnerving pressure from unforgiving fans who often did not care how the team performed as long as they won the battle against the arch-rivals.
The super 10 stage of the fifth world twenty20 starts on friday with another india-pakistan match and dhoni was glad it would be without the hysteria of the past. “an india-pakistan match always caught the imagination of people from either side” dhoni told reporters at the shere bangla national stadium.
“but i feel it has mellowed to some extent whatever the reason may be. you don’t see many altercations on the field but you still see good competitive cricket which i feel is very important.”
Dhoni said he once enjoyed on-field friction among players from both sides but felt it was important that cricket was played in the true spirit. “it used to get quite tense with plenty of things happening apart from cricket on the field” he added.
“i used to enjoy it as a kid but i’m glad that it doesn’t happen any more because when you talk about promoting cricket and promoting it the right way i think more often than not it’s being played in the right spirit.” dhoni’s pakistan counterpart mohammad hafeez said a match against india was always special but there was life beyond it.
“an india-pakistan game is always important but this is not the whole tournament” hafeez said. “we want to put up a good show in the whole tournament.” meanwhile hafeez enjoys an embarrassment of riches that he believes will give the 2009 champions a definite edge. “we do believe we have good all-rounders in our side” hafeez told reporters on thursday. “with shahid afridi shoaib malik myself and kamran akmal as the wicketkeeper-batsman we are blessed to have players like that. hopefully it will help us.” afridi was in spectacular form in the recent asia cup also in bangladesh and hafeez predicted the flamboyant all-rounder would continue in the same fashion even though he was “not 100 percent” fit.
“he’s in good form we’ve seen that in the asia cup. this is a good sign for us because we always want him to bat lower in the order and finish the game for pakistan” hafeez said of the maverick leg-spinner who is also one of the most hard-hitting batsmen around. “it’s always good to know he’s in good nick and a good frame of mind. it’s always great your senior player is always looking forward to challenges.” hafeez’s india counterpart mahendra singh dhoni was envious of pakistan’s riches.
“the more all-rounders you have the more difficult it gets for the opposition” dhoni said.
“if you have players who can bat and bowl and if they are proper all-rounders spinning or fast bowling they add to the strength of the team.”