MIRPUR - Pakistan's chief cricket consultant Zaheer Abbas feels it would be an intense contest between India's famed batting and his team's "stronger" bowling when the two sides clash in their much-anticipated Asia Cup match here Sunday. "Both teams have their weaknesses. It will depend who play on that given day and learn from their mistakes. It's going to be a close match, whoever plays well tomorrow will win. Both teams are very good. I'm expecting a good game tomorrow," the former Pakistan captain told reporters on the eve of the high-voltage match here.
"Pakistan bowling attack is much better but I must say Indian batting has always been superb," he added. Abbas said India should not be judged on the basis of their embarrassing defeats in South Africa and New Zealand. "New Zealand's wickets were different, fast and seaming where the home side played very well. It's always difficult for Indian batsmen to play on fast and seaming wickets. But here the conditions are similar to that of Pakistan and India. So it's like they are playing at home."
The 66-year-old, who is also the batting consultant of the side, further said the team would approach the match with a free mind and would retain the same side that won against Afghanistan in the last match. "The players just want to play their game. The pressure always comes from the people. They always want their country to win. The pressure comes from the public not the players. There is no added pressure. It's only you people who add to the pressure. We always play to win," he said.
"The top two teams of Asia would be playing tomorrow. You all know how intense it becomes in an India-Pakistan match... It seems the whole world is watching you. Everybody wants a good score and result. India will want their team to win and it will be the same case for Pakistan as well. Everyone wants to give their 100 per cent in an India-Pakistan match. It's going to be a good contest. It's after all a healthy and sporting rivalry. You cannot predict anything at the moment. We will see tomorrow what will be the result."
Urging Pakistan's erratic top-order batsmen to play the full 50 overs, Abbas said: "These days, the good bowlers don't take many wickets while the others take more because it's the batsmen who throw their wickets. The idea is to go for lofty shots and score in boundaries and sixes. However, I would say the team which refrains from these type of shots and play full 50 overs will have a better chance. The key is to bat full 50 overs and score as many runs possible."
Abbas agreed that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's absence was hurting India but at the same time he felt India have the batting firepower especially in Virat Kohli. "Dhoni's absence has made a lot of difference to the side. You saw it in the last match also. But the present skipper is doing very well. He was captain of the World Cup winning Under-19 side. You all should be expecting him to do well for your country."
The Pakistan-India match will shift the action to the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur in Dhaka and Abbas said the conditions would be ideal for batting and better than what they got in Fatullah. "I got to know this wicket is better wicket and will have perfect batting conditions."
Making a slew of changes, the PCB has made a Pakistani coaching panel in Abbas, team coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and bowling coach M Akram. Hailing the decision, Abbas said: "We have tried foreign coaches, but now we want our coaches do well for the side. I really believe that the domestic coach is on par with a foreign coach."