Waqar Younis watched in disbelief as Pakistan’s pace attack allowed Australian openers to lay the foundation stone of a big total in overcast conditions.
He rued the fact that Pakistan were unable to get early breakthroughs in a 41-run defeat against Australia in Taunton, and stressed that they will need to do much better in the big World Cup game against India at Old Trafford on Sunday.
“When Pakistan play India it’s always a huge game, but their meeting on Sunday is shaping up to be more crucial than ever,” Waqar was quoted as saying by ICC.
“It’s simple – if Pakistan want to stay in the tournament, they have to bring an ‘A plus’ performance and win that game.
“The match has always meant so much to both countries. There will be billions watching the game.
“Pakistan’s track record is very mixed, but that’s all gone. That’s all history. It’s a new game, a new day.
“Pakistan have got to take positives out of what they did to India in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy a couple of years ago. They must think positively going into this game.”
Waqar hoped that Pakistan have saved their best for the game against India.
“I hope they have got their best game in the locker for India, who showed against Australia that they are a very fine side.
“What I have seen in this World Cup so far is that if you don’t pick up early wickets, you’re in trouble. The new ball is so crucial and openers are being more careful in the first ten overs this year.
“They’re not really going full throttle, they are being a bit more watchful. Once you don’t lose any wickets early on, it becomes easier because the ball doesn’t swing and batting becomes easier.
“It was with the new ball, in both batting and bowling, that I felt Pakistan missed a trick in their entertaining defeat to Australia at Taunton.
“Early on, we were not really sharp enough and Sarfaraz Ahmed was not on his toes. Mohammad Amir didn’t get any support from the other end.”
Waqar hailed Amir over his Taunton heroics.
“No-one really saw the comeback coming and for that, you have to take your hat off to Amir. Full marks to him for the way he bowled.
“Even with the new ball, I thought he bowled quite nicely. He could have picked up more than five wickets in the end. He was unfortunate with a couple of nicks early on.
“Amir bowled superbly. He showed us all his cutters, variations and short pitched deliveries.
“I think we all know Amir is mentally very, very strong. He showed once again that class is permanent – he is no doubt a match-winner.”
Waqar believes Pakistan will rethink their strategy for the game against India.
“It may be that Mickey Arthur looks at changing the team for Sunday. I spoke to Mickey in Taunton and he is thinking in terms of horses for courses, and I agree with him to an extent.
“The pitch there was good for pacers and he rightly went with four of them. The issue was not the nature of the plan, but the execution.”
Waqar is of the view that Pakistan should have kept playing leggie Shadab Khan.
“Shadab is the key man in this side and I think they will look to bring him back in against India. They might go for five bowlers, use four pacers and Shadab and drop someone like Shoaib Malik.
“It depends a lot on what conditions are like in Manchester, up to a few hours before the game.
“Going from a defeat to playing the old rivalry against India isn’t going to be easy. India probably watched the Australia game very closely and know what needs to be done.
“Pakistan need to lift themselves up and I hope they bring their best on Sunday.”