All teams are wary of a wounded opponent. In cricket, there's no side feeling as hurt as Pakistan. It could be their X-factor against India during Wednesday's semifinal.
Shahid Afridi will not require much effort to motivate his boys for the big-ticket clash against the archrivals. Apart
from the bitter political ties, the Pakistan players are eager to make a statement to the Indian board. Ever since they were ignored for the Indian Premier League, they have harboured resentment against the Board.
Hence, what better revenge than beating India in India in the World Cup?
India's powerful batting line-up makes them the favourites, but an angry opponent can lift their game significantly. Adversity brings the best out of Pakistan teams and it is the only time when they play with a common goal and stay united.
Shahid Afridi & Co watched in anguish as cricketers from the rest of the world struck it rich in the cash-rich IPL.
Smart leaders look for opportunities to motivate their troops, and the astute Afridi is unlikely to miss out on this obvious factor. For the team, it is an ideal rallying point.
Pakistan players participated in the first IPL but after 26/11, relations between the two countries broke down and it had an effect on cricketing ties as well. Their services were not used in the second and third editions and they were not a part of the auction list for the fourth edition.
It is learnt that the players have been advised against making any statements on the IPL, as it would give an impression of being desperate. "Nahin khila rahein hain to nahin khila rahein (If they are not playing us, so be it)," they have been told.
The players also look at it as an opportunity to put up a strong performance and prove that they have some of the world's best talent. Fast bowler Umar Gul, who played for the Kolkata Knight Riders, said, "Like everyone else, we would also like to play in the IPL."
The player most affected by the snub is Afridi himself. He had commanded a huge sum in the first auction and his career graph has been on the rise since then. He is the leading wicket-taker in the World Cup with 21 scalps.
Shoaib Akhtar, who was said to be the most charged up and trying to convince the team management to give him a chance in the semis, will not play. The team management took the decision after a meeting in the evening.
Afridi too had hinted earlier that Shoaib was unlikely to play, but had added that a final call would be taken by Tuesday evening. "He is not hundred per cent, but I think he is trying his best," Afridi had said.
It seems the main challenge for India on Wednesday would be to raise their intensity in order and neutralise Pakistan's aggression.
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