ISLAMABAD - Asian Bradman Zaheer Abbas said Saturday Pakistan need to bounce back in style against Australia to win back the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan.

Former Pakistan cricket team skipper Zaheer Abbas, who also served in 2016 as ICC President, said: “Pakistan were firm favourite for the Asia Cup keeping in mind UAE is second home to green caps, but other teams also had similar pitches at their home grounds so it was much easier for them to cope with the situation, while Pakistan failed to perform according to their strength.”

He said Pakistan were not even close to the Champions Trophy performance and to people said it was looking like an ordinary club team. “I told them it is not the case. Sometimes pressure is hard to cope with. The green caps were flying high after Champions Trophy and bar was too high but after lost against India in the first match, the moral of the players was down and they completely fail to recover but Pakistan are well-known to bounce back when chips are down. They had proved that time and again in the past when they were hammered in one event, they return in style and win big events.”

He said Australian are much stronger this time around as they had prepared well and they had few top class players as well who could turn the tables on their given day.

“But for me, Pakistan are still the team to beat. Limited overs cricket is different than longer version of the game. I am quite sure, keeping in mind, Pakistan cricket team’s track record in UAE and being wounded after Asia Cup debacle, they are bound to do well.”

“Look at the minnows Bangladesh and Afghanistan. They are fast learning and climbing new peaks. Majority of Afghan cricketers have learnt the art of cricket while staying in Pakistan and they are producing wonders for their team. Same is needed to be done by the Pakistani youngsters as well. Now the balance of the team with the arrival of senior players is much better. They need to prolong their stay at the crease and fielders need to back their bowlers and hold on to every given opportunity. I feel it will be a highly competitive series and both teams’ are equally balanced. The green caps had the liberty of home conditions and they know the pitches very well, while Aussies, as we all know are fighters and adapt to the situation very well.”

When asked about who he tipped as the favourites, Zaheer replied: “I don’t want t pick any specific team. The team who plays well and cash in on the opportunities would prevail. However, traditionally Pakistan always enjoy tremendous success in the UAE in longer version of the game. Only Sri Lanka managed to beat Pakistan in Test series in more than a decade at the UAE tracks. Hopefully, after Asia Cup, green caps and team management would have chalk out a plan and would have worked on their mistakes and won’t repeat the same mistakes again. Overall, I feel it would be good cricket on offer and the masses will enjoy watching competitive cricket,” Zaheer Abbas concluded.