Defending champions India will lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan in their ICC Champions Trophy 2017 opener on June 4 in Birmingham. Unlike other ICC tournaments, Pakistan, the three-time semi-finalists, have a positive record against India in the Champions Trophy - winning two and losing just one of their previous meetings. Ahead of the marquee clash, India’s former Team Director Ravi Shastri said the Indian batsmen need to show respect to the Pakistan fast bowlers.
Shastri told India TV that it will be a contest between India’s batting and Pakistan’s bowling and that captain Virat Kohli and Co. need to be cautious against the likes of Wahab Riaz, Mohammed Amir and Junaid Khan.
“Whenever India play Pakistan, it is always a contest between their bowlers and our batsmen. This time too, it will be the same. Pakistan's batting is inexperienced and they rely only on their bowlers to win the match,” Shastri told India TV.
The former India captain further said that all the three Pakistan pacers can make the ball move both ways and the Indian batsmen need to be patient to counter them.
“Pakistan have a good fast bowling attack in Wahab Riaz, Mohammed Amir and Junaid Khan. All these pacers can bowl at good speed and can make the ball move. To counter them, the key for the Indian batsmen will be to settle down first and then score. Showing respect to the opposition bowlers is also important,” he said.
Shastri also heaped praise on opener Shikhar Dhawan, who scored 40 and 60 in India’s warm-up matches against New Zealand and Bangladesh, respectively. India had won both their warm-up games.
Shastri said Dhawan is an aggressive player and that the team management needs to back him.
“I felt good how Shikhar played in the warm-up games. He also spent some time in the middle. He is a very important player for the team. When I was the Team Director, I used to have a lot of faith in Shikhar's game. He is an aggressive player, he has confidence and you should also encourage such players. He is a left-hander and in England, the right and left combination will be important,” he said.