ISLAMABAD - Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif Saturday said the green caps had put too much pressure on Fakhar Zaman, which is hampering his batting and instead they should let him play his natural game to get best out of him.

“Pakistan cricket team was in skies and was not ready to give India any outside chance in the Asia Cup after defeating them in the Champions Trophy final. But the defeat in the pool match is an eye-opener and will help green caps a great deal in the coming matches. I still believe, Pakistan are favourites to beat India and they both will play the final.”

He said Pakistan needed to overcome same old mistakes, which had become trademark of green caps. “The good thing is team got another opportunity today against India. I am highly hopeful the right combination would be selected and Amir will return to the starting lineup. Sarfraz did made few mistakes but it doesn’t mean he is finished. There is still lot of cricket to be played. Asia Cup is a commercial venture and the Asian Cricket Council is reaping benefits and minting money with both hands as they had ensured Pakistan-India clash for at least twice, which mean more revenues, more commercial value and more money.”

He said if Pakistan and India play a bilateral series, the masses involvement would be 10 times more than Asia Cup. He advised both countries boards and governments to sit and make decision once and for all as people of both countries want cricket and that cricketing fever could only be restored, when both governments resolve their issues.

Rashid was also all praise of Afghanistan and reckoned them a force in the next World Cup.

“In the next year’s World Cup, Afghanistan would be the team to watch. Currently they have world class spinners. Rashid Khan is key to their ambitions of going strongly and as the injured fast bowlers are back, Afghanistan team would be very hard to defeat. They have played best cricket in the recent years and they have a system, which is producing top class players. The day Afghanistan U-19 players, who had beaten Pakistan U-19 team twice in the U-19 World Cup, will make way into the squad, they will further strengthen the Afghans.”

He said Pakistan needed to shape up as they were committing too many mistakes both in bowling and fielding, while team selection against Afghanistan was also a bit strange. “Amir is your frontline bowler. He needs matches to get back into rhythm. Shaheen Shah is a superb addition and with the matches, he is getting better and better. Nawaz has performed well but the weak link is presently Fakhar. Pakistan is heavily relying on Fakhar to provide solid stand up front, which had put extra pressure on Fakhar and the team. For me, Fakhar should be given free hand and let him play his natural game. Yes he is not firing guns and not scoring for the last three matches and especially in the last two games but it is only a matter of time before Fakhar will once again get back into to his own and start to smash bowlers to all sides of the park.”

On the captaincy and mistakes made by Sarfraz he said pressure was too high but Sarfraz had handled the pressure quite well and few minor mistakes don’t mean he is done or finished. “Off course, Sarfraz needs to score some runs, which will automatically remove pressure and will help him relax. The more Sarfraz is relaxed, better he will help the team.”

He said Pakistan should keep playing Shaheen Shah as he needs more matches to gain confidence. Rashid said misfielding and drop catches were the part of the game and Pakistan were never known for outstanding fielding.

He rued that after the Champions Trophy triumph, match-winners were sidelined as Rumman Raes, Azhar Ali, Muhammad Hafeez and others were missing and Sohail Khan ha to suffer because of his fielding. “Now World Cup is not far and team management should focus on pool of players and not to make too many experiments.”