| GEO Sports|
| Arch rivals to clash in Asia Cup today|
| Updated at: 0951 PST, Saturday, June 19, 2010|
KARACHI: Pakistan will target India’s ‘strong points’ when they take on their traditional rivals in a do-or-die clash of the Asia Cup in Dambulla on today.
Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, told Geo from Dambulla on Friday that he has asked his bowlers to go all out for the scalps of India’s prolific openers — Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir — and his counterpart MS Dhoni in what is a mouth-watering clash between the Asian giants.
The Flamboyant allrounder, who smashed a brilliant 109 in a lost cause against Sri Lanka earlier this week, said that he wants his boys to play aggressive cricket.
“India’s strength is in their batting,” said Afridi. “In fact their openers and then Dhoni in the middle-order are their most dangerous players. They are India’s strong points and I want to neutralise them. We can beat them at their own game,” he added.
While India began the quadrangular with a bang by crushing Bangladesh, Pakistan crashed to a 16-run defeat against the hosts in the tournament opener last Tuesday.
Pakistan desperately need to beat India to stay alive and Afridi is confident that his unpredictable team can conquer MS Dhoni’s men.
“It’s a do-or-die match and we have to play attacking cricket because that’s the only way we can stay in the hunt for the final,” said Afridi.
It’s the first time that Afridi will be captaining Pakistan against India and the skipper is hoping to make it a memorable match.
“It’s a huge match whenever we play against India and as captain it would be even more important one for me. I’m confident that we will raise our game tomorrow.”
Most of Afridi’s key batsmen including vice-captain Salman Butt, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal flopped in the game against Sri Lanka, but the captain is hoping that they will bounce back against India.
“Most of our boys played foolishly against Sri Lanka. They committed unnecessary mistakes but I’m sure that they will do much better against India.”
Some critics have questioned Pakistan’s decision to play their opening game against Sri Lanka without any specialist spinner though they have Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman in the touring party.
Afridi, however, made it clear that the team management will not come under any kind of pressure and will pick the line-up after closely inspecting the pitch and playing conditions.
“We will decide the playing eleven tomorrow after inspecting the wicket. For the time being our options are open.”
He hinted that Pakistan might replace Mohammad Asif with Saeed Ajmal for today’s match. “The (Dambulla) pitch is wearing out a bit and there is a good chance that it will offer more assistance to spinners in the coming matches.
“We will take a look at the wicket tomorrow and may be go for Saeed Ajmal instead of Asif.”
Afridi, who braved severe cramps on his way to a stunning century, said he is fully fit and will try to give his best against India.
“Actually I was suffering from severe dehydration in the last match and cramps made batting really painful for me,” he said. “But I’m fine now and looking forward to giving my best against India.”