World Sports

Shahid Afridi: Why Pakistan v India is ‘our Super Bowl’ – it is like Dallas Cowboys versus Philadelphia Eagles

Shahid Afridi: Why Pakistan v India is ‘our Super Bowl’ – it is like Dallas Cowboys versus Philadelphia Eagles

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Pakistan have shown in recent ICC Men’s T20 World Cups that they are capable of challenging anyone.

Even though their form has been inconsistent in 2024, I believe they have all the ingredients to put it all together in the West Indies and USA.

Over the last two ICC Men’s T20 World Cups, they have made one final and one semi-final and there is no question of the talent in the squad.

The conditions in the Caribbean will definitely suit them. There is so much talent in the side, particularly when you look at the bowling attack which should thrive over there. The fast bowlers are as good as any team in the world and there is so much depth as well.

That class is much more important than recent form. We have seen time and again that the landscape of the game can change in the space of a few overs in T20 cricket. Part of the reason the results have been a bit up and down is that the selectors have been testing youngsters and giving them an opportunity to showcase their talent.

It was important to settle on the best combination for the World Cup. Once they get there, I am expecting them to target the powerplay, keeping the strike rate high, before building up until the 14th over. From there, the finish will be the key.

Even with the results this year, the team needs to keep a positive mindset and there must be total clarity on each player’s role. Teamwork makes the dream work and that can be the difference.

I am really excited to see the tournament return to the Caribbean. I captained Pakistan in 2010 when the West Indies last hosted and have great memories of that tournament.

As an all-rounder, I loved the fact that the pitches support both batters and bowlers, so it will be up to the players to acclimatise quickly. For the batters, shot selection is vital, while bowlers need to find their line and length.

This is also a huge tournament for American cricket. I have always had a great time when playing in the USA and for those who have not experienced it, the conditions are similar to playing in the West Indies.

People are going to love the support in the States. There is a great expat community over there which absolutely loves cricket. And the Americans absolutely love their sport, whether it is American football, basketball or baseball. I really believe that cricket will hit the mainstream over there in the next few years, which is very exciting for up-and-coming cricketers.

For those Americans discovering the tournament, they should know that Pakistan’s game against India is like our Super Bowl.

I used to absolutely love playing India and I really believe it is the biggest rivalry in sport. When I played in those games, I got a lot of love and respect from the Indian fans and it means so much to both sides.

Against India, it is about handling the pressure of the occasion. There is so much talent in both teams, they just need to put it together on the day.

That will be the case in that game and in the tournament overall. The team that can hold its nerve will come out on top. T20 cricket is so unpredictable, and teams can bat so deep now. You can have a batter coming in at No.8 and smashing the ball at a strike rate of 150 to win a game.

I hope that will be Pakistan this time around, but it is hard to pick a favourite.

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