Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan – who led the country to their only cricket World Cup before entering politics – urged the current team to banish the fear of losing in their crucial match against India Sunday.
The arch rivals go head-to-head in a World Cup blockbuster at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, in a match expected to be watched on television around the world by over one billion people.
Pakistan have the better record overall, winning 73 matches to India’s 54, but at the World Cup it is a different story.
India have come out on top all six times the sides met at the World Cup, starting with a 43-run triumph in 1992 until, most recently, a 76-run victory in 2015.
“All fears of losing should be banished from the mind as the mind can only process one thought at a time,” tweeted Khan, who led Pakistan to victory at the 1992 World Cup.
“Fear of losing leads to a negative and defensive strategy & crucially mistakes by opponents are not pounced upon.”
Recalling his cricketing career, Khan – one of the greatest all-rounders in the game’s history – said: “I assumed success was 70 percent talent and 30 percent (in the) mind.
“By the time I finished playing cricket I felt it was 50-50 ratio. But now I tend to agree with my friend (Indian batsman Sunil) Gavaskar it’s 60 percent mental strength and 40 percent talent.”
Khan said mental pressure would be a key factor in Sunday’s clash and he had some advice for Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed.
“In Sarfaraz, we are fortunate to have a bold captain and today he will have to be at his daring best,” said Khan.
“In order to have a winning offensive strategy, Sarfaraz must go in with specialist batsmen. Unless pitch is damp, Sarfaraz must win the toss & bat.”
Khan added: “Finally, even though India may be the favourites, banish all fear of losing. Just give your best and fight till the last ball. Then accept whatever the result like true sportsmen.”