Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Hayden backs Pakistan in 'history-making opportunity' vs India. Good leadership will be the key. Babar commands that presence and commands that role: Hayden
Good leadership will be the key. Babar commands that presence and commands that role: Hayden
“I would have never thought in my wildest dream that I would be sitting inside the Pakistan dressing room,” Matthew Hayden, now a batting consultant for Pakistan in the 2021 T20 WC, makes an honest confession.
Even though he has signed up for a short tenure, his task is cut out – to help the team lift the cup. And the first challenge up against the side is the high-pressure encounter against India, a side they have lot to every time they've played in the T20 world cup.
“Nothing that I've ever seen through the various elements of our game ever matches the rivalry of India and Pakistan,” Hayden admits. However, he adds that despite a lop-sided record in India's favour, it will all boil down to how the teams embrace the challenge, and he is confident that players in the camp are relaxed despite the pressure.
“There is an obvious pressure much like the pressure that's there when you play against England for Australia,” he says. “But the pressure is only as much as you allow it to be. Your preparation is there, your experience is there, your opportunity now becomes a history-making opportunity.
“We can present all the stats, do all our homework and research, but nothing can replace all the stuff that we all dream about, or coach about and commentate on – which will be the game itself. I can sense that the players are waiting for that opportunity. I can sense that there is a sense of calm about that. It's now the opportunity of playing the game.”
The pressure, though he believes, will be most on skipper Babar Azam – both as a batsman and a captain. However, he believes Babar will be well prepared for the challenge. “As you've seen in the IPL, with the two dominant captains – MS Dhoni and Eoin Morgan,” he said. “Even though their individual performances weren't as good, (compared to how) they have previously done within their own statistical record, the way they led their troops and conducted themselves, became an important part of UAE.
“One side is not going to run away with the game here. It's a dogfight. The conditions and margins for error will be very little. And so, good leadership will be the key. Babar commands that presence and commands that role. In the batting sense as well, he is the premium player. He will be targeted. He will be the person who every player would want to put in his pockets. There will be pressure on him both as a captain and as a batsman. But I sense that the way he will go about with it will be spot on.”
Despite losing the last warm-up match against South Africa, Hayden is confident that Pakistan have a strong batting combination to deal with India. He has emphasised on the role of the top-order, which includes Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman, to get Pakistan to a strong total.
“If you look at the way Fakhar is going about the preparation for this match. Not to single him out, but to look at the way he has expanded himself in the two warm-up matches. It is exciting to know that it can happen a few days ahead of the India match. Babar and Rizwan too. The top three are such a critical part of performance in the UAE.
“Powerplays have been such a significant part of the game in UAE. There have been a few exceptions but most teams that win the powerplay, win the match. And you don't necessarily win the powerplay by being overly aggressive. We have a very strong batting combination, including Hafeez as well.
He reserved special praise for Fakhar, who has adapted well to his new role at No 3. “Fakhar can play anywhere in the top four. He commands that through his performances. In the two (warm-up) games he has played in the UAE, he has been very solid. His strike rates were above 160 – even though it's typically around 130 here. He is also playing very smart cricket. I quite like him at No 3, that sheet anchor role. He can assess the conditions very quickly but he can also advance based on the partnership with Rizwan and Babar. Personally, I like him at No 3.”
Stating the importance of being conservative with the batting approach, looking at the modest totals pitches in UAE have produced in recent months, he wants his batters to target totals in the range of 150-170.
“Big totals here are never going to be achieved. It would take something extraordinary to happen for 200-plus totals to be achieved. Average scores roughly would be 170 in Abu Dhabi, 150 in Sharjah and 170 in Dubai potentially. We are not talking about 10-an-over from the start of play. We've got a balanced and strong batting line up.”
Even as two of Pakistan's five Super matches are set to be played in Sharjah, the big match – that is expected to break and build momentum – will be played in Dubai, against India.
Beyond the 170-odd score, it will about helping the players remain “calm, in control and stay in the present,” he says.
“World Cups are such a challenging thing. Playing multiple world cups has been such a part of my life. For some reason, you're always under pressure. You don't need to create environments additional to what the game demands,” he concludes.