If New Zealand loses against Afghanistan, questions will rise’: Akhtar

Written by Abhishek Patil

Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar wants India to reach the final so that the Babar Azam-led side can once again get the better of them and win the T20 World Cup 2021 title. Akhtar’s comments came after India’s hopes of making it to the semi-finals grew stronger with a resounding victory over Scotland in Dubai on Friday that saw their run rate going above both New Zealand and Afghanistan.

India suffered crushing defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand in their first two Super 12, Group 2 matches but just when it seemed their campaign was over, they made a strong comeback in the World Cup by decimating Afghanistan and Scotland.

India now need Afghanistan to beat New Zealand and hope that they can register a big win over Namibia to qualify for semi-finals on net run rate. Pakistan have already ensured qualification from this group.

“Personally, I would India to advance to the final with Pakistan so that we can beat them again. It’ll be good for cricket. It will make the World Cup even bigger,” Akhtar said on his YouTube channel.

The Rawalpindi Express said it was wrong to think India’s World Cup campaign after the first two losses.

“I would advise Pakistan not to think about what is happening around them. Their job is to beat Scotland and finish on top of the table. Yes, I would definitely want one thing. I always thought why Pakistan play India only once? Why not play the final? And it can happen. India appeared like a scattered team after their first two losses. But good they realized their tournament was not over. It’s still alive,” Akhtar added.

Currently, all sides have one match each remaining. With Pakistan already sure, only among India, New Zealand, and Afghanistan have a chance to grab the second spot.

The equation is comparatively easier for New Zealand. All they need to do is beat Afghanistan and qualify for the semi-final. But if they lose to Afghanistan then it will open the doors for them and also India.

The Virat Kohli-led side will have an advantage as they play Namibia last and would know exactly what they need to do to ensure qualification.

Akhtar said if New Zealand lose to Afghanistan then it will give rise to lot of speculations.

“India’s fate is now in New Zealand’s hands. If New Zealand lose [to Afghanistan] a lot of questions will be raised, I’m warning you. I’m afraid that it will become another trending topic. I don’t want to get into any controversy but sentiments of Pakistanis are really high at the moment as far as New Zealand is concerned,” said Akhtar.

“I think New Zealand are better than Afghanistan. If, God forbid, they don’t play well and lose, that will be a problem. Nobody will be able to stop social media if it happens and we have to take that into consideration,” he added.

New Zealand face Afghanistan on Sunday while India will take on Namibia on Monday.

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Abhishek Patil