Shahid Afridi has opined that the Indian team holds an edge over Pakistan ahead of the much-awaited clash between the subcontinental rivals in the Champions Trophy on Sunday. The Pakistan legend also reserved special praise for Indian duo Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah in his column for the ICC.
India and Pakistan will renew their famous rivalry in the Champions Trophy on Sunday and it is the only ICC competition where Pakistan hold a positive head to head record against India. In recent times, however, the rivalry has been one sided with India enjoying the lion's share of positive results. And Afridi, himself, attested to the fact that the current Indian team is better than their Pakistani counterparts.
"As a passionate Pakistan supporter, it's natural that I would want my team to finish on the winning side against any team, and especially against India," Afridi wrote.
"However, recent history and the depth of the India squad gives it a slight edge heading into the game."
The Indian team is filled with world- class stars that could walk into most teams in the world but there is no denying who the biggest star of the show is. Virat Kohli has been in inspired form against Pakistan averaging an incredible 41.44 in 10 innings and his highest score of 183 was also achieved against the same team.
"Led by Virat Kohli," Afridi wrote, "the Indians possess a formidable batting line-up that can flay any bowling attack on its day."
"Kohli's credentials as a top-order batsman are known to all and he has played some memorable innings in the ODI format."
"I have vivid memories of his sublime century against us in the 2012 Asia Cup, while he was at his absolute best in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 clash at Adelaide, laying the foundation of an Indian win with a masterful hundred."
"For me, bowling to Kohli was always a challenge and Pakistani bowlers would have to be on top of their game against him."
"They must try and attack, especially when he is new at the crease. If Pakistan dismisses Kohli cheaply, it will significantly increase its chances of restricting India to a low score," said Afridi.
Pakistan have always boasted of a strong bowling line-up while the Indians have excelled in producing exceptional batsmen but this time around the latter seem to have all bases covered. The former Pakistan captain added that he was impressed with the bowling line-up that India had on offer this time around and predicted it would work wonders with their batting prowess.
"While batting is India's traditional strength, it is also fielding a balanced bowling attack that includes some skillful bowlers led by the wily Ravichandran Ashwin," the recently retired player said.
"The off-spinner has truly come of age and has become a pivotal part of India's recent successes across the three formats. Ashwin has great control and bowls an impeccable line and length which troubles the best in the business."
"He gets great support from left-armer Ravindra Jadeja, who has been another vital cog in the Indian line-up in recent years. The conditions in England might not suit spinners much but both Ashwin and Jadeja have the quality and accuracy to make run-scoring difficult for batsmen."
However, Afridi singled out India's death overs specialist, Jasprit Bumrah, as the player who has impressed him the most in the recent past.
"I am hugely impressed by the skillset and temperament of young Jasprit Bumrah. He bowls what I call the 'Pakistani Yorker' almost at will. He reminds us of our pacers of yore who had mastered the skill of bowling the perfect yorker, especially during the 90s," the Pakistani concluded.
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