He is a bit surprised to see India facing defeat against Sri Lanka. At the Same time, Irfan Pathan is quite hopeful that India can make it to the semis. The allrounder from Baroda, with his experience of 173 international matches in all the three formats, tells CricketSoccer in a recent chat that the loss to Sri Lanka can be an eye opener for Virat Kohli and his boys.
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer: Are you surprised to see India’s defeat against Sri Lanka?
Irfan Pathan: Yes… A bit surprised. But cricket is a game of uncertainty. You never know when a supposedly weaker team causes upset. Against Sri Lanka, India was clearly favorite, but Sri Lanka was the winner.
CS: Can Indian team overcome the shock of that defeat in the last match in their group?
Irfan: Defeat to Sri Lanka was a reality check for the Indian team. In such a big tournament, where you have to compete with the top teams in the world, you may lose a game or two. But the sooner that phase passes by, the better it is for the team. I think India may see the loss to Sri Lanka as a blessing in disguise. Now they will be more focused than before. They will also be alert about the strength and weakness of the opponent team as well as of their own.
CS: So what should be their approach in the South Africa game?
Irfan: Everybody knows that this is going to be a do or die match for both the teams. Losing this match will mean the end of the journey in the ongoing Champions Trophy. I will suggest that India should wear a no-nonsense attitude. They can not afford to do any mistake in this game. But their approach should not reflect the fact that they may end up their tournament if they lose. They should be daredevils. They should give leave a message to the opponent with their body language. And most importantly, the boys should enjoy the game onto the field. I am quite hopeful that the result will go in India’s favour.
CS: Should India play with seven batsmen or should they sacrifice one with an extra bowler?
Irfan: Look, the wickets in England this time seem to be batsman-friendly. 300 has become a regular score this time. So why to play with a seventh batsman? I will prefer R Ashwin in lieu of Kedar Yadav. I think six batsmen on this kind of surface are more than enough. And don’t forget that Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya can use the long handle pretty well. Ashwin is also a handsome batsman as well.
CS: How do you see India’s chances to make it to the semifinal?
Irfan: I believe India is still one of the favourites to lift the trophy. South Africa has a history to slip in important matches. They may feel a slight psychological pressure. India should utilize it and play the best cricket. What they can do is to give hundred per cent on the field. The rest is depending on the fate. But the efforts should be there and I am sure Indian cricketers will have the last laugh if they play to their potential.