Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has said that his country’s “real anger” was directed towards New Zealand and not Team India as the Kiwis had recently abandoned their tour to his which was followed by England.
“Our real anger is with New Zealand. We will take it out on them, we have no issues with you (India),” Akhtar said while talking during India Today’s show Salaam Cricket 2021.
Significantly on September 17, the Kiwi cricket team had abandoned their tour of Pakistan following a New Zealand government security alert.
The development took place a few minutes before the first ODI match between Pakistan and New Zealand.
Following New Zealand’s last-minute decision to cancel their limited-overs tour had not gone well with Akhtar, who had slammed the touring Kiwi team and its cricket board, saying “NZ just killed Pakistan cricket”.
“Sad scenes & news from Rawalpindi. Following points for New Zealand to remember: 9 Pakistanis were killed in the Christchurch attack. Pakistan stood strong with New Zealand. Pakistan toured New Zealand in the worst of Covid circumstances regardless of the crude treatment by NZ authorities on that tour,” Akhtar had expressed.
“This was just an unverified threat, it could have been discussed. Prime Minister Imran Khan personally spoke to his NZ counterpart and assured but it was still refused. Pakistan has safely hosted South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe & PSL,” he had added.
Later, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had also cancelled their men’s and women’s short tour of Pakistan, which was severely criticised by many former cricketers.
Akhtar also reckoned that the Virat Kohli-led side would be under more pressure as compared to the Green Brigade as the Babar Azam-led side have nothing to lose.
“There is a lot of pressure but it’s less on Pakistan because, first of all, the entire stadium is blue. That is yours. Your fans will be there, your broadcasters, we have no problems if we lose this,” Akhtar said.
“On a serious note, I feel there is a lot at stake for India. If Pakistan bat first and make more than 180 runs, then trust me, the pressure gets to the biggest of players. If India can handle that pressure better than Pakistan, that’s fine, but what if Pakistan surprises you?” he questioned.
Speaking on Kohli, he felt that luck was not on Kohli’s side.
“Captain’s luck is not favourable for Virat Kohli. I feel that Virat Kohli is such a great cricketer, a great guy, but somehow, as a captain, his luck is not striking. I hope it doesn’t strike on the 24th,” Akhtar said.
Pakistan are placed in the second Group in the showpiece event along with India, New Zealand, Afghanistan and two qualifers.
After opening their campaign against the Virat Kohli-led Team India, Pakistan will next face New Zealand at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah October 26.
The Green Brigade will next take on Afghanistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai October 29 before facing the two qualifers on November 2 and 7 in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah respectively.
The two semifinals will be held on November 10 and November 11 with the final to be played on November 14 in Dubai.