Umar Gul backs Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad, advises on India clash

The 37-year-old also believes that the Men in Green will qualify for the knockout stage of the mega event

Umar Gul backs Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad, advises on India clash PHOTO: AFP

Former Pakistan speedster Umar Gul has opened up about the Men in Green’s T20 World Cup squad.

The mega event is set to start this month with Pakistan playing its opening match against arch-rivals India on October 24.

While speaking to Cricket Pakistan in an exclusive interview, Gul urged people to back the squad as the country’s cricket is going through a tough phase after New Zealand and England pulled out of Pakistan tours recently.

“No doubt that the [T20 World Cup] squad has been criticised a lot since it was announced. I think we should criticise the squad but don’t mention the names of players because our cricket is going through a difficult phase after the cancellation of New Zealand and England’s tours of Pakistan. It’s time to back the players rather than demoralise them,” said Gul.

“Players should also take this criticism positively rather than getting pressurised. I also did the same, when I faced such a situation during the course of my career, and tried to answer my critics through my performance on the field. The ongoing National T20 Cup is also a good chance for the players to regain their confidence,” he added.

The former right-armer also had a word of advice for players ahead of the Pakistan team’s clash against arch-rivals India. 

“There is extra pressure of the India match as the entire nation wants you to beat them. My suggestion is that players should control their nerves and don’t crumble under pressure as it’s a high-voltage match. I would also advise that, two to three days before, especially around the India match, the players should avoid social and conventional media,” he said.

He also admitted that the Men in Blue are a strong team with top-quality players, like Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli.

“Realistically, India have a very strong team. They have worked a lot on their team and have also benefitted greatly from the IPL by unearthing many good players,” he said. “Obviously, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will hold key for the Indian side but if Pakistan can dismiss their top-order early in the powerplay, they can put their middle-order under pressure.”

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Gul also backed Pakistan’s bowling attack by stating: “Pakistan’s bowling is very strong. Hasan Ali has been in great form since his comeback and Shaheen Shah is also in good rhythm. We also have good spinners, bearing in mind the conditions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I have a lot of expectations from our bowlers.”  

The 37-year-old also believes that the Men in Green will qualify for the knockout stage of the upcoming T20 World Cup.

“Our team has the potential to qualify for the final four, especially because the matches are being played in UAE as the conditions will suit us [Pakistan],” he said.

The Peshwar-born was also disappointed over the cancellation of England and New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan.  

“The PCB and security agencies have worked really hard to ensure that international cricket returns to Pakistan. Like the fans, I was also disappointed when New Zealand and England called off their tours,” he said.

“Being a cricketer, I know how difficult it is to play away from home. It affects a player’s performance and overall cricket in the country,” he concluded.