With bowlers like Bumrah, Shami, Siraj, and all-round abilities of Hardik, quality of Indian cricket has increased significantly: Misbah-ul-Haq

"It's a different Indian team now, a skillful team with a very powerful bowling lineup," said Misbah further.

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Misbah ul Haq
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Misbah ul Haq. (Photo Source: ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images)

The much-awaited T20 World Cup is all set to begin from June 2 and the India vs Pakistan clash is set to take place on June 9 in New York. Ahead of the all-important clash, former Pakistan cricketer Misbah-ul-Haq shared his views on the current Indian set-up and how they have improved their bowling department by miles.

Haq also shared how teams like Australia overcome hurdles in ICC events with their strong mental attitude whereas teams like India and Pakistan struggle big time due to huge expectations and huge populations of their respective countries. As per him, playing under intense pressure has been a great challenge for India for many years.

Speaking exclusively in a special Star Sports Press Room to preview India vs Pakistan match at the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, former Pakistan cricketer Misbah-ul-Haq shared his thoughts on the quality of the Indian cricket team in all departments ahead of their match against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup. “It's a different Indian team now, a skillful team with a very powerful bowling lineup. The batting has always been strong, but the quality of their fast bowling has really elevated their game. With bowlers like Bumrah, Shami, Siraj, and the all-round abilities of Hardik Pandya, the quality of Indian cricket has increased significantly. Their ability to handle pressure has improved too. Playing so much cricket gives them exposure and boosts their confidence.

"To break this, opposing teams need to make a lot of effort, which is a difficult task. Look at Australia, for instance. They overcome most of these hurdles with their strong mental attitude. As big matches and pressure situations arise, they manage to stay composed. In contrast, teams like Pakistan, India, and other Asian teams face immense pressure from their huge populations and high expectations. This pressure can affect performance significantly. It's something India has struggled with in the last few mega-events, where they haven't been able to finish strong. For Australia, this isn't as big of an issue, but for Pakistan and India, playing under such intense pressure is a major challenge. It's interesting to see how these teams will manage it in the future. India, especially, will need to find ways to overcome this mounting pressure if they want to succeed in upcoming events.”

Misbah-ul-Haq shared his opinion on the inclusion of MD Amir in the Pakistan squad for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, saying, ”I will talk about the Champions Trophy held in 2017. Mohammad Amir we witnessed previously and the one we will see now in the ICC T20 World Cup, we will definitely see a difference that time. Previously he had more pace, swing, and zip and it will be less in comparison to his present scenario. But now the advantage will be the experience he possesses. He is an experienced bowler especially if we take the scenario of death overs bowling. How do you perform under pressure, and how do you use variations accordingly? I think that he can do it better at this time.

"One can take advantage towards the end of the innings, however at the beginning that effect may not be there as we witnessed in the 2017 Champions Trophy. But what we have seen from Amir's experience such as slower ones, outside the office stump and bowling yorkers. The most important thing is pressure handling in big matches against India, when you had performed well and previously won matches on crucial stages and bowled to big batsmen that will be more important for Amir in India versus Pakistan and other matches as well.”

Misbah-ul-Haq shared his thoughts on who he thought would bowl the final over in the 2007 T20 World Cup final. “I think I knew who is going to bowl the over and it wouldn't be spin. The only option they had at the moment is Joginder Sharma. I knew it wouldn't be a spinner because the side’s boundary was very short. It would be tough for a spinner to bowl that over. I could easily hit them towards the side boundary. So I had this idea from before, and I think it was the right call from MS Dhoni. There was a chance, an outside chance that you could clear a medium pacer if you watched him closely and they also had the idea that it was the last wicket so even the final runs depend on the fielding team. If you get out, the match is over. So I was mentally prepared mentally that who was going to bowl that over."

Misbah-ul-Haq shared his thoughts going in his mind and approach on his shot selection in the final over of the 2007 T20 World Cup final match against India, saying, “I was doing the calculation that if we have to win what are the options. If the fielders come up then I can hit them from above later, and if the fielders are at the back and around the boundaries then I have the option of taking two or a single. And sometimes the situation makes you make a move or take a call. It was the last wicket maybe if I had one or two more wickets in hand. If it hadn’t been the fall of wickets of Sohail Tanvir or Gul's then I could have thought differently and taken calculated risk. That was the last wicket and a lot of things were at stake. And there are a lot of things were going through my mind that I should go for a safer option and opt for the option on which I have confidence. Where people think that maybe the fine leg was up and the pace of the bowler was low. 

"But my target was where MS Dhoni was standing right behind me so I went to play a fine shot and the only mistake was that my execution was not right. The ball came very close to me and because of that I had to take the ball when the ball comes close it doesn't go far it goes up and this was one reason why when you hit a pull shot or normally a sweep shot you have an extension of the arms you hold the ball in front so when you play a ramp shot the ball goes flat and a little far.  So technically and mentally all these things were in my mind but at the end of the day, I think India played better in that game the target was not big in terms of pitch and boundaries. Everybody knows that Wanderers score like 200-250 are not even safe in terms of boundaries. But I think we just lost the plot while starting the chase at one time we were 6 wickets down at 70, so that basically affected the whole chase and India played better in that game. so that's why I think the moral of the story at the end is the team that plays well and handles the pressure better normally wins at the end.”

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