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Pakistan take on India in biggest game of tournament today

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan take on archrivals India in arguably the ICC Women’s World Cup’s biggest game at Derby, United Kingdom on Sunday (today). The tournament has been a superb success so far as it garners almost unprecedented interest but it will reach fever pitch come today. Pakistan, led by Sana Mir, have their work cut out to qualify, having lost their opening two games against South Africa and England. India, on the other hand, have had contrasting fortunes and come into the game on the back of two wins in two. The match between second-placed India and bottom side Pakistan may seem like a mismatch but head coach Sabih Azhar is confident of a better showing from his side in Derby’s County Ground. An improvement is very much required if Pakistan are to qualify for the semi-finals, with the top four teams going through to the next round. Each team will play against every other team in the tournament, which means Pakistan still have five more games to turn things around.

“When we came here to England, I had it in my mind that the girls will make it to the semi-finals,” Azhar said, before revealing the hard work the team has put into preparing for the tournament. “We had a camp in Abbottabad and then trained for 15 days. We also came to England a bit early, which has helped, but in the first two matches we made some mistakes that we shouldn’t have. We have worked upon them and will hopefully not commit them again.” According to Azhar, the match against India is the toughest of the lot for the Women in Green. “India are in second spot and have won their first two matches against England and West Indies, which shows that they are a strong team,” he said. “Add to that the added pressure that invariably comes in an India-Pakistan game and it’s clear that this is a huge game for us.”

Azhar feels the side have one of the finest spin-bowling unit around. “We have a well-balanced team but our strength lies in spin bowling,” he said. “We have a couple of experienced campaigners, including skipper Sana, who is a motivation to all and is always ready to help her teammates.” It would be folly for India to underestimate or write off Pakistan, despite their poor form. “We have a number of match winners in the squad and every single of them is more than capable of winning the match for Pakistan and turning the tables on the opponents on her own,” said Azhar. “They are all very motivated and hungry for success.” The head coach added that the girls just needed some time to gel as a unit and their performances would gradually improve as the tournament goes on.

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