Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden reckons that the high-octane clash between India and Pakistan in the ICC men's T20 World Cup clash in Dubai on Sunday will be "a real dogfight". He added that Pakistan captain Babar Azam is a premium player and will be targeted by the Indian bowlers.
"One side is not necessarily going to run away with it (match) here. It's going to be a real dogfight as the conditions and margins for errors are very little. So, good leadership is going to be key," said Hayden in a virtual interaction on Thursday.
"I think Babar (Azam) commands that presence, he commands that role and he needs to fulfill that role. On the batting sense as well, Babar, I think he is the premium player and he will be targeted. As Chris Gayle said 'put in his pocket'. Yes, there will be additional pressure on him both as a captain and batsman, but I sense the way he goes about his job, I think he will be spot-on," added Hayden, currently working as a batting consultant with Pakistan in the T20 World Cup.
Hayden pointed out Indian batters KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant as the biggest threat to Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday. "More or less, I have watched KL Rahul grow and he is a major threat to Pakistan. I have watched him grow up as a boy. I have seen his struggles and his dominance in shorter formats. I have seen someone like Rishab Pant, his brash nature and beautiful vision for the game, how he has destroyed bowling attacks because he has got the opportunity because he sees it that way."
Hayden, who was commentating on the second half of IPL 2021 in the UAE, had his say on what will be the critical factors for Pakistan's batters in the tournament. "The top-three will be critical in the UAE as we have seen that the teams that dominate the PowerPlay tend to win most games here. Total beyond 200 would be highly unlikely in these conditions since the average score is around 170 in Abu Dhabi, 150 in Sharjah and around 170 in Dubai, so that is what we will be aiming for rather than 10 runs per over from the start."
Hayden expressed his delight over being a part of the Pakistan team in a short-term role. "It is a great honour and a privilege to share my knowledge and the dressing room with Pakistan team. I must confess I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be sitting inside the Pakistan dressing room."
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