Team India will be locking horns with Pakistan in their opening match of the T20 World Cup 2021 on Sunday, October 24. The Men in Blue have won all five matches against their neighbors in the ICC event since meeting for the first time in 2007 in South Africa. However, former English spinner, Monty Panesar reckoned that Pakistan is a force to reckon on the UAE tracks, adding that they can beat any opposition on their day.
However, Panesar acknowledged Virat Kohli-led India has the upper hand and is expected to outplay Pakistan if they hunt down Babar Azam early. During a chat with Times of India, Monty Panesar said, “Pakistan are really good on UAE tracks. They have a good bowling lineup with Shaheen Afridi in the side. They have a solid batting lineup with Babar Azam in the side. They have all the basics covered. You just can’t predict Pakistan. Only Pakistan can beat Pakistan.”
He further added, “On their day, they can beat any team in the world. Pakistan are really motivated this time and wouldn’t spare any team. But India will have an upper hand, considering their overall records against Pakistan. Pakistan will be under pressure, not India.”
Further, the 39-year-old put his bets on”game-changers” Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, who according to him they will play a crucial role in India possibly winning the title.
Monty Panesar elaborated, “For me, it will be Ashwin. He has got so much unpredictability. And Ravindra Jadeja. He is a game-changer with both bat and ball. He had a wonderful tournament with Chennai Super Kings. Both of them are going to be key campaigners because Ashwin can be wonderful in the powerplay and also in the death overs. He has done so well. If Jadeja and Ashwin perform well, India will win the T20 World Cup.”
He also explained, “For Pakistan, Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi (are the key). Shaheen is a wonderful left-arm seamer and he will eye more and more Indian wickets. I am sure Virat and KL Rahul have enough practice against the left-arm seamers. If India bowlers get rid of Babar Azam early, they can destroy Pakistan like a pack of cards.”
The match between the two Asian rivals will be played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, a venue where Pakistan has not lost since November 27, 2015.