Cricket Expert & Columnist
T20 World Cup: Pakistan motivated by aborted England & New Zealand tours, believes Michael Atherton
Pakistan drubbed India by 10 wickets in the T20 World Cup on Sunday, their first victory over their rivals in 13 attempts in World Cup cricket; CricViz analyst Freddie Wilde hails "powerplay specialist" and "X-factor player" Shaheen Shah Afridi on latest Sky Cricket Podcast
Last Updated: 26/10/21 6:17am
Michael Atherton believes Pakistan have been roused by New Zealand and England's aborted tours of the country after starting their T20 World Cup campaign with a 10-wicket drubbing of India.
Pakistan claimed a first win over India in World Cup cricket in 13 attempts when they overcame Virat Kohli's pre-tournament favourites in Dubai.
Sky Sports Cricket commentator and former England captain Atherton always felt Babar Azam's side had the talent to challenge for a second T20 World Cup title and first since 2009.
But he thinks Pakistan have been motivated by New Zealand pulling out of a white-ball series to their nation on security grounds and England then not visiting the country for a joint men's and women's tour, with the ECB saying the decision was based on the "mental and physical well-being of our players and support staff".
Atherton told the Sky Cricket Podcast: "Given what happened before the tournament with New Zealand pulling out of a tour and England not going there, there was a sense of grievance that can push a team a long way.
"If you get your team together and feel slightly aggrieved that can give you a sense of motivation. It was great to see them play so well. It was a fantastic victory and they look a very dangerous side.
"I certainly had them in the semi-finals and from there anything can happen. They have got some game-changing players in there.
"There is no greater sight than watching a fast bowler run in, as Shaheen Shah Afridi was doing against India, producing some fantastic deliveries to get rid of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul.
"They have lots of other wonderful players and a really varied attack, as they often do.
"They played better and more aggressive cricket than India. You can say it was an advantage batting second with the dew falling but they definitely played better."
Shaheen trapped Rohit lbw for a golden duck in the first over of Sunday's clash with India and then bowled his opening partner KL Rahul for just three in his second over and the game's third.
CrizViz analyst Freddie Wilde, who joined Atherton and Rob Key on the Sky Cricket Podcast, said: "Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer, for me, are the best fast bowlers in the world in T20 cricket but Shaheen is next on that list.
"He is phenomenal, particularly in the powerplay. He is a powerplay specialist, as we saw against India. He bowls full, fast and targets the stumps.
"Wickets are at their most valuable in the powerplay - on average, it reduces the opposition's total by about 13 runs if you take a wicket in the first over.
"Pakistan were right to give him three overs up front when he had his tail up. If he had got Virat Kohli out then, that innings would have taken on a very different complexion.
"Shaheen is fantastic and I hope Pakistan continue to use him as aggressively as they did against India. He is an X-factor player, their best player."
Shaheen went on to dismiss Kohli for 57 in the penultimate over of India's innings, before Mohammad Rizwan (79 not out from 55 balls) and captain Babar (68no from 52) guided Pakistan to their target of 152 with 13 balls remaining.
Watch Pakistan's next game in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, against New Zealand in Sharjah, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 2.30pm on Tuesday.