Head coach reveals 'the best thing' about their first match
Pakistan and India meeting each other in the T20 World Cup final will help improve the relations between the two countries, Pakistan head coach Saqlain Mushtaq has said.
“It is our neighbouring country, if we play two matches against them then our relations will improve,” said Saqlain while addressing a press conference on Thursday.
Saqlain believed the post-match pictures that went viral after the Super 12 fixture between the sent a strong message to the whole world.
The photographers captured moments when Indian captain Virat Kohli was embracing Pakistan batsmen Mohammad Rizwan to congratulate him for the win.
Other pictures showed Pakistan captain Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Shahnawaz Dahani interacting with former India skipper and now mentor MS Dhoni.
“The way Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni interacted with our players and how people commented, it was the best thing about that match,” said Saqlain.
“The message that went out was that we are humans and we have love between us and we don’t care about other things.
“Hats off to Babar, Rizwan, Dahani, Malik, Hafeez, Virat and Dhoni, they gave a strong message through that picture for the world and the two countries.”
Pakistan beat India in their opening fixture by 10 wickets. Kohli said his team was “outplayed” in the contest.
Saqlain said if Pakistan meet India in the final and beat them, it would prove the former as genuine World Cup winners.
“If we face India in the final then it will be great, not because we have beaten them or we’ve become big headed, but because if you really want to become a world champion you should be thoroughly checked and it should be proven to the world that you are really world champions,” said the former off-spinner.
The match-up would also benefit world cricket as a whole, Saqlain believed. “If India come in the final against us, then the ICC, the fans and the cricketing world will have some fun.”
Saqlain declared that his team have “the mindset of champions” as they play Afghanistan in their next match in Dubai on Friday.
After thumping India, the 2009 champions completed a five-wicket win over New Zealand, making them well placed for the semi-finals.
“We are playing with the mindset of world champions,” Saqlain said.
“The two wins have given us the confidence and belief to achieve that goal.”
Saqlain replaced Misbah-ul-Haq, who resigned last month, and is bringing his experience as a spin-bowling consultant for England, Bangladesh and New Zealand in the past.
Saqlain said his team needed to be wary of a dangerous Afghanistan.
“We know Afghanistan is a very good team but our plans are well-placed and we need to execute those plans as we have done in the first two games,” he added.
Afghanistan crushed qualifiers Scotland by 130 runs in their first Group 2 game with off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman taking 5-20 and leggie Rashid Khan 4-9.
Himself a great off-spinner who played 49 Tests and 169 one-day internationals for Pakistan, Saqlain called Afghanistan’s spinners “world class”.
“Rashid and Mujeeb are quality spinners and have been doing well for their team as well as in the private leagues around the world, but we have plans against them,” said Saqlain.
He praised the unity of his players, saying it has helped them achieve good results.
“Our theme is ‘together we achieve’ and it’s not ‘I did well’ or ‘he did well’, but it’s ‘we did well’ sort and that has helped us gel well.”
Saqlain pointed out that Pakistan have played most of their cricket in recent years in the United Arab Emirates.
“These conditions of the UAE are very familiar for my players and we have been playing home international matches and Pakistan Super League games here and that has, and will, help our players.”
Pakistan will play Namibia on November 2 and Scotland five days later in the Super 12 stage.