Published On: Tue, Mar 15th, 2016

Sunil Gavaskar feels Afridi was trying to pacify Indian crowd

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Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar feels Pakistan T20 skipper Shahid Afridi’s comments that he felt more loved in India than in his home country, was part of his plans to please the Eden Gardens crowd ahead of the clash against India on Saturday, Times of India reports.

Gavaskar expects Afridi’s kind words to have the desired effect as he feels the Kolkata crowd might just take it easy on Afridi’s men.

“If you have a hostile crowd, it can also lift your game but if you are overwhelmed by a hostile crowd, you don’t play your natural game, you play into crowd hands. This is a fine way to win the Eden crowd. Having played in the IPL, he may have meant what he said,” Gavaskar told NDTV. “Emotions run high before an India-Pakistan match. What Shahid said was a good way to say nice things about Indian public. The crowd at Eden will not be hostile towards Pakistan.”

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Afridi’s comments weren’t taken too lightly though back in Pakistan with irate fans venting their fury on social media websites such as Twitter. Afridi, who was already under the cosh following Pakistan’s dismal showing at the Asia Cup, faced the most criticism from former cricketer and coach Javed Miandad, who lambasted the all-rounder for speaking ill of his home country.

Gavaskar, however, feels that Miandad’s reaction was born out of the fact that he was someone who played with his heart on the sleeve, especially when it came to matches against arch-rivals India.

“When Miandad played for Pakistan, he played with his whole heart. He gave 200 percent when he played against India. He always had that invisible Pakistan flag with him. So he was miffed with Shahid, saying nice things,” Gavaskar said.

The former Indian skipper advised Pakistan to turn their focus quickly back to on-field matters if they are to avoid a similar fate as the one they faced in Bangladesh.

“Shahid and his boys need to focus on cricket. They must play at a much higher level than Asia Cup and silence their critics,” Gavaskar said.

Gavaskar backs India to break host-nation duck

Gavaskar, who named Australia, South Africa, England and hosts India as the four semi-finalists, feels the Men in Blue can go all the way and become the first nation to clinch the World T20 on their home turf.

“There has to be a first time. No host country has won it and it can be India. The way the Indians have been playing from Australia, they look a happy, balanced unit. The fielding is top class and that’s great,” he said.

Apart from the above teams, Gavaskar has high hopes for New Zealand as well, who in spite of missing the talismanic Brendon McCullum have players like Tim Southee and Trent Boult who have the experience of playing in the IPL.

“New Zealand play under the radar. Expectations are less, so they can come and surprise. It will be a cracker of a game against India. They have fabulous stroke makers. Trent Boult is there and Tim Southee, who had played in IPL. He knows how to bowl in Indian conditions. They can spring a surprise,” Gavaskar said.

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology

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