Former Australia cricketer Matthew Hayden cautioned Rohit Sharma ahead of India’s much-awaited Asia Cup 2023 encounter with Pakistan. Hayden tipped Rohit and Indian batters to approach cautiously against Pakistan’s in-form pace attack and also revealed his thoughts on how to overcome conditions at Pallekele on Saturday (September 2).
India and Pakistan will resume their famous cricket rivalry in the third match of the Asia Cup 2023 at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. Pakistan kicked off their campaign with a huge 238-run win over Nepal on August 30 to add some early pressure on India’s preparation. But the Men in Blue holds a strong record against Pakistan in the Asia Cup and ICC tournament and will enter the upcoming game as favourites.
However, Hayden highlighted India’s struggle against Pakistan in the 2021 T20 World Cup where the latter recorded a stunning 10-wicket win. Shaheen Afridi famously dismantled Indian top order Rohit, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli to bag the Player of the Match award. Shaheen trapped Rohit on a golden duck with a terrific yorker and is entering Saturday’s game with a sensational form.
Hayden asked Rohit to be cautious while playing Shaheen in the early overs and also advised him to play out outswing deliveries.
“You’ve got to be conservative against Shaheen Afridi,” Hayden told Star Sports. “Remember back to the (T20) World Cup (in the UAE in 2021) more recently. Shaheen was able to take early wickets. We’ll never forget that ball that he bowled to Rohit Sharma, so a little bit of caution against Shaheen Afridi. If it’s swinging, look to play out those first three overs.”
Hayden also pointed out Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah’s strength and said that the former will target the top of off stumps with some extra bounce. However, the former Australian opener advised team India to put Naseem under pressure with aggressive cricket to remain front in the game.
“Firstly, the conditions here in Kandy tend to have quite a lot of bounce, so you’ve got to watch that out, especially Haris Rauf,” Hayden added. “He’ll want to really hustle in and hit the top of off stump. And I think with Naseem, even though he will shape the ball, Pakistan can be in a position to advance forward with India managing to take them out of play by aggressive plays against someone like Naseem.
“Put him (Naseem) under pressure, feel like you are in front of the game. All in all, though, I think it’s going to be Team India that’s going to win. I think they’ve got a deeper, classier batting lineup, and I think they’ve got form on the board as well.”