Shahid Afridi may have been chided by his own people for his ‘more love from India’ remark but Sunil Gavaskar feels that the Pakistan skipper has smartly tried to win over the Indian crowd ahead of much-awaited clash on March 19 in Kolkata.
Afridi yesterday said that they have received more love in India than in Pakistan, inviting criticism from former Pakistan cricketer Javed Miandad. Even a petition has been filed against him in a court.
“Emotions run high before 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,” Gavaskar said.
“If you have 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.
Asked if Miandad’s reaction when he said that Afridi should be ashamed of himself, was appropriate, Gavaskar said,”it depends on individual”.
“When Miandad played for Pakistan, he played with his whole heart. He gave 200 per cent when he played against India. He always had that invisible Pakistan flag with him. So he was miffed with Shahid, saying nice things,” he said.
The legendary opener suggested that Afridi and his players must not think about all this and concentrate on just their game.
“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 felt.
The former India captain said, “India are favourites by a ‘little bit’ to win the WorldT20 and along with the hosts, Australia, South Africa and England can make semis going by current form.
Gavaskar said the jinx that a host country has never won a World Twenty20 title may be broken this time.
“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 also found New Zealanders a potential threat for other formidable teams.
“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 strokemakers. 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.