ISLAMABAD - Former Test player, manager and ICC referee Col (r) Naushad Ali termed Pakistan group as the toughest one in the World Twenty20 Cup but hoped that green shirts would perform exceptionally.

Talking to The Nation on Monday, he said: “Likes of defending champions West Indies, Australia and India along with Pakistan make a very competitive group and it is too tough to pick one. Every team in the group has equal chances and Pakistan has to overcome Indian challenge in the very first match to be played on March 21 which will decide the fate of the green.”

Rubbishing some certain quarters giving edge to India because of their superior batting, Naushad stated: “I don’t think so as Indians are lions only at their home grounds and their records at neutral venues speak itself. It is true that they have some quality individuals, who can turn the tables. We shouldn’t forget Pakistan has world-class bowling attack which can deliver for the team and help it in earning crucial victories. Now our bowlers are fit and are hungry to perform well against arch-rivals.”

“As we all know Pakistan-India clash always provides something special and players from both the sides look pumped up, it will be a psychological battle and the one, who will manage to control emotions and handle the pressure, will emerge as victorious. Pakistan team is well balanced and each and every player in the squad is a match winner, who can turn the whole complexion of the match in a matter of time,” he added.

“Pakistan must enter the match with aggressive approach and positive frame of mind and field very strong team. I will prefer Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shahzad to open the innings while Hafeez should bat at No 3 and Umar Akmal at No 4 followed by others. I strongly favour Kamran Akmal to keep behind the wickets, as we need full time wicketkeeper. Kamran has capacity of hitting big lusty blows and he should be included in the playing XI to ensure that department is completely safe. Umar Akmal has great potential and class so he must be included in the squad as batman. He is also a superb fielder and his presence in the field will definitely safe few runs,” he asserted.

“I suggest Pakistan should enter the match with four spinners as spin bowling is Pakistan team’s strength while fast bowling department should be spearheaded by Umar Gul and Junaid Khan. Although Indians are good enough to play spin but it will not easy for them to handle the likes of Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, M Hafeez and Shahid Afridi,” he maintained.

“Pakistan has to register triumph against Indians as winning the match will give them a psychological edge and help them take on other opponents with positive frame of mind. West Indies is going through a mixed period, while Australians are on a roll so Pakistan team needs to stamp out their authority and that too very quickly. The green shirts can’t afford to relax and any leniency can cost them dearly,” Col Naushad concluded.