Get the app

World Cup 2015: Every player enjoys playing an India-Pakistan match, says Moin

"India has played well against us in World Cup matches and they have deserved to win," said Pakistan's chairman of selectors Moin Khan.

Wisden India Staff |February 13, 2015, 9:49 PM IST
World Cup 2015: Every player enjoys playing an India-Pakistan match, says Moin

Adelaide: Dapper on the ground either with the big gloves on, or in front of the stumps playing the most outrageous of shots, or, now, even in retirement. Moin Khan, currently Pakistan's chairman of selectors, was a man much in demand on Friday (February 13) during his team's training session at the Adelaide Oval. Seemingly reluctant to talk at first - Arre captain se baat karo na (why don't you talk to the captain) said with a guileless smile - he was happy to share his thoughts with what snowballed from a four-man interrogation crew to a free-for-all.

Moin was very much a part of the Pakistan team that won the World Cup here in Australia, and he recalled the events of March 1, 1992, at the Adelaide Oval vividly. Pakistan were on the brink of crashing out of the tournament, shot out for just 74, in a match in which they had to avoid defeat to keep their slender semi-final hopes alive. England had reached 24 for the loss of Graham Gooch's wicket in eight overs when the heavens opened up, allowing Pakistan to escape with a point that kept their interest in the tournament going. Then, Pakistan gathered great momentum to burst into the semifinals before going on to conquer England in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"It was the luckiest match for us, we got one point each in that match," recalled Moin. "It was unfortunate for the England team that they didn't win the game. We got out for some 70-odd runs in that game, but we were lucky that we got one point from that match and we got into the semis. It was a great memory and we are back here and feeling good."

Moin was involved in his fair share of showdowns with India in World Cups - both in 1992 and 1999 - and said while it was unavoidable that the players would feel the necessity for victory, it was imperative for his side to keep emotions in check. "Whenever we play against India, these things are always there in the mind. I feel you don't have to expose yourself, you need to concentrate on the game," he said. "You have to wait for your opportunity to grab the opponents. It is the highest kind of pressure in India-Pakistan games and whoever handles pressure better will win the game. It is a traditional rivalry, but it is in the mind of the players. Whenever I used to play, it (aggression) didn't come in the form of words, we would only try to perform on the field.

"It is a balance between the mind and cricket skills. But you have to be fit as well. If you are not fit, you won't be able to train your brain to perform properly. Fitness is the key always and if you are fit, your mind works. For that, you have to prepare really hard. My team has been working hard and clicking at the right time."

Pakistan haven't beaten India in five gos at the World Cup. "It happens sometimes and that is the beauty of the game," observed Moin. "India has played well against us in World Cup matches and they have deserved to win. This is another opportunity for this young team to create history by beating India and breaking that momentum which India has been having all these years. Cricket is an amazing game. Every player enjoys playing an India-Pakistan match. As far as history goes, Pakistan has lost to India every time in the World Cup. The mentors and the coaches of the team have spoken to the players about this, about being mentally strong."

He added that he had been sharing his experiences with his wards in a bid to motivate them into shaking off a jittery past. "Whenever we sit together, we always try to convey the feelings, the thoughts which were in our mind at that time when we were playing the World Cup. I hope this Pakistan team will think along the same lines and perform well. This is a lifetime opportunity for them and it is going to be a big match against India."

India have been in Australia for more than 80 days now, and have just one win to show - in the last warm-up game against Afghanistan. Moin, however, refused to read too much into it. "I won't say any team is weak. India has been here for two or three months and has had a chance to prepare. At the same time, even Pakistan has prepared well. What matters is how well you play on match day and how much you can enjoy the pressure of an India-Pakistan match. I'm really hopeful."

The Adelaide crowd, Moin hoped, would be equally divided in its support of the two teams. "Wherever we play against India, both teams get good support. We have a lot of fans coming to the ground. Whenever we play against India in India, it is something different when you are playing against all odds. Here in Adelaide, it is going to be a balanced crowd that will be fun for the players as well.

"The crowd lifts the morale of the team. The players also feel good when they have good support. They get inspired and motivated because there are a lot of fans who are cheering for the side back home and from the boundary line. It also helps to perform well on the ground. But you can't compare the atmosphere that we will get to see here to that semifinal game in 2011 because that match was in India. It is going to be a balanced crowd day after tomorrow, it will be a good game. From a crowd point of view, whether a player is from India or Pakistan, you need to support the game. The fun that is in the game should remain. Of course there's tension, but that adds to the experience."

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5046 120
2 Australia 4320 108
3 England 5253 105
4 New Zealand 3449 105
5 South Africa 3537 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7748 121
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 South Africa 5193 110
5 Australia 5854 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10645 260
see more