Imran Khan believes whoever handles pressure better will come up trumps in the India-Pakistan semi-final, though the dew in Mohali could also play a role in deciding the winners.
"Pakistan are ahead of India in bowling and India are ahead in batting. However, the pressure will even out
Mahendra Singh Dhoni looks skywards while standing next to The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 trophy before the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 match between England and India at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
everything. Whoever handles pressure better will win," he said at a promotional here on Saturday.
Imran said pressure does funny things to players. "You think a player is great but put him under pressure and he may not seem that great. But a player who is not considered great may rise to the occasion."
And India as hosts and favourites will have to cope with more pressure than Pakistan, said Imran. "If ever India were going to win the World Cup this is their best chance. I am not trying to play mind games, but the fact that India are favourites and playing at home will mean they will be under more pressure. My advice to the Indian players will be, take sleeping pills, otherwise you will find it difficult to sleep."
The dew factor
One factor that can turn the semi-final is the dew, said the 1992 World Cup winning captain, who is apparently in touch with current Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi.
"Afridi spoke to me before going to Mohali and wanted to know about the dew factor in Mohali. That is one thing the Pakistan team is worried about."
Dhoni v Afridi
Imran believes India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has the edge over Afridi as far as leadership is concerned. "Dhoni's advantage is that he captains India in all three formats -Tests, one-dayers and T20s. I think Afridi made a big mistake when he gave up the Test captaincy last year, because no other format tests you as a player and captain as Tests do." "If you have captained in Tests, you can handle pressure well."
Imran said he is missing fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif. "I tell you, if those two were here, Pakistan would have been the favourites in the semi-finals." Imran added that pacer Shoaib Akhtar should be fielded in the semi-finals only if he is completely fit.