Monday, July 22, 2024

Shahid Afridi calls India-Pakistan clash as cricket’s Super Bowl


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New York, June 5: Shahid Afridi sees the India-Pakistan contest as an equivalent to the hugely popular ‘Super Bowl’ in USA and reckons whichever team handles nerves better will come out on top in the T20 World Cup contest in New York on June 9.
The last time the two teams played at the T20 World Cup, it turned out to be a game for the ages with Virat Kohli pulling off a special win for India.
Cricket’s biggest game will take place on American shores for the first time and former Pakistan captain Afridi too will be keenly following it from the stands.
“For those Americans discovering the tournament, they should know that Pakistan’s game against India is like our Super Bowl,” Afridi, who is the T20 World Cup ambassador, told ICC.
“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.” The event is being co-hosted by the USA and Caribbean, where the Super 8 stage and knock-outs will be held. Afridi said it is hard to pick a favourite in the shortest format.
“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,” said the former all-rounder.
Pakistan have not had the best of build ups for the tournament, having lost the series in England. They lost a game to Ireland in the preceding rubber.
“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.
“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,” he said referring to the 2022 T20 World Cup finalists.
He is also confident the American public will warm up to the sport.
“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,” Afridi added. (PTI)


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