Salman Butt favours Pakistan over India in Asia Cup encounter

Karachi, Sep 1 (PTI) Former captain Salman Butt feels the Asia Cup encounter against India on Saturday is tilted slightly towards Pakistan owing to non-cricket reasons.

The world No 1 Pakistan will take on India as the two arch rivals meet at Pallekele in a Group A encounter.

“When I say non-cricket reasons, I mean ifs and buts in selection, clarity in plans, available resources and current state of mind,” Butt said in an interview.

“But no doubt, both teams have great credentials and I expect a very good match. If it is a Pakistan and India game, it is no fun if it is a one-sided game,” he said.

Butt said both teams will rely on their key players to fire.

“The performance of key players on particular day is important. You can always expect out of the box performances from someone new but I think (the) key players will count.” “Virat (Kohli) is the sort of a player who, once he settles down, has the ability to also make the other players bat through and he finishes off matches,” he said.

“(The) rest of the team is immensely talented. I am a big fan of Shubman Gill because he plays cricketing shots. I like such players. India’s bowling is not weak but some of them are coming back from injuries and some are rusty like Mohammad Shami.” Butt said he had not seen any bowler with better accuracy than Shaheen Shah Afridi.

“Everyone knows Shaheen will bowl in-swing and he gets wickets regularly. He is a special bowler, he has (got) special trade,” he said.

“He can bowl in-swinging yorkers at pace with the new ball (and) that is his hallmark. I have never seen any bowler bowl with such accuracy in first few overs,” he added.

Butt said the teams should expect the unexpected when it came to the pitch in Pallekele.

“Any pitch is possible in Sri Lanka, from my experience. I have played a lot there so it is difficult to predict how the pitch would be prepared,” he said.

“I would love to see some pace in the pitch and also bounce so that we can see quality stroke play,” Butt added.

“Amir had better skill sets” =================== Butt opined that Mohammad Amir was more gifted than Pakistan’s current strike bowler Afridi.

“Amir had better skill sets; he was lethal with both new and old balls. I have no doubt (that) if you look at skill sets and cleverness across all three formats, Amir comes out on top,” Butt said.

“But at the moment, Shaheen is a world class bowler. He is definitely among the very best. (What) he is doing for Pakistan (is something that) no other bowler is doing for his country,” Butt said.

“Shaheen is hitting his peak and showing a lot of maturity, but in his time Amir was a brainy fast bowler and he had all the tricks. And remember, he (Amir) played in an era when there were more quality batsmen in every team including India, Australia or England,” Butt added.

“I am not a fan of going back in time but that is my opinion about Amir and Shaheen,” he said.

Butt termed Naseem Shah as a ‘clever bowler’.

“Naseem can be effective against India. He is a clever bowler, he swings both ways and has nagging length. He is sharp. His attitude is very good. He also adds value as a batter. He has learnt from (Dwayne) Bravo while playing in the Caribbean League,” he said.

“Hope India are not desperate with Bumrah” ================================ Butt opined India should be patient with Jasprit Bumrah, who has recently made a comeback after a long injury lay off.

“I hope they are not desperate with him they should give him time to make a comeback,” Butt said.

“There is only (an) issue of match fitness with him because he is a world class bowler. In recent times, Indian team management has called back some players early from injuries and they have been injured again,” Butt said.

The former Pakistan captain said KL Rahul, unavailable for the match on Saturday, does not look confident.

“Lately he has not looked confident. I didn’t see positive vibes on his face in recent times, there was some confusion with him,” he said.

“But one reason is that he has not been given a specific role in the team. They keep on trying him in different roles all the time.” Butt added, “He is a good cricketer and he was on track to become a world class player, but they have experimented with him a lot and that has halted his progress. They have confused him.” While admitting that India and Pakistan’s spin attacks look similar, he would have picked R Ashwin in the side in place of Axar Patel.

“The thing is Indian players are good players of spin that is a big factor in Sri Lanka,” Butt said.

Source: PTI News


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