Lahore: Pakistan’s head coach Waqar Younis on Friday said a potentially hostile environment in India should motivate the country’s national cricket team as they prepare to travel to their arch-rival’s turf to compete in the ICC World T20. (Pakistan, Happy With ‘Solid’ Assurance, Will Travel to India for World T20)
Waqar called on his squad to rise to the challenge minutes after the Pakistani government announced it would send the team to India following security assurances from New Delhi, ending months of uncertainty. (Last Chance For Afridi to Win a Major Trophy, Says Waqar)
Pakistan had delayed their departure for neighbouring India earlier this week citing concerns about threats from Hindu religious extremists against the team. (Pakistan-Bengal World Twenty20 Warm-up Game Cancelled)
“It’s good news that we are going,” Waqar told reporters, adding that the team’s entire roster was willingly to travel to India.
The coach said playing under difficult conditions in India was nothing new, citing the team’s 1999 tour in the neighbouring country when the squad won two out of three matches after it received threats from extremist groups.
“We have faced such situations before. In fact, the situation was worse than this but we will go with a positive frame of mind,” the coach added.
Their first match of the tournament will be held at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on March 16 against a qualifier team, followed by a clash against India at the same venue three days later.
Waqar admitted his team will need to execute a dominant performance if they hope to do well against India.
“This is true that we have not been playing well for the last few months,” said Waqar, whose team lost to England and New Zealand in one-day and Twenty20 internationals.
Pakistan also failed to qualify for the Asia Cup final after losing to India and Bangladesh last week.
“World Twenty20 will be a big challenge as both the groups are tough and we have to play really well,” said Waqar.
India-Pakistan showdowns usually draw hundreds of millions of television viewers, making it the biggest box office attraction in the sport.
However, diplomatic tensions have meant that the two teams have not played any bilateral series for more than three years, and their rivalry is restricted to multi-national tournaments such as the World T20.
They have not played a full series since 2007, although Pakistan did tour India late in 2012 for a short limited over series that failed to revive the ties fully.