KARACHI, (Reuters) – Imran Khan will be supporting India against Australia in their World Cup showdown Thursday because he believes a semi-final against Pakistan will capture the sporting world’s imagination.
The winner of Thursday’s quarter-final will face Pakistan in Mohali on March 30.
“I want India and Pakistan to play the semi-final. Because it would be a great advertisement for cricket and I think it will go in our favour,” former Pakistan captain Imran told Geo Super channel after Pakistan beat the West Indies by 10 wickets on Wednesday.
“Our team remain the under-dogs, India have been rated as favourites from the start. And I think the pressure of playing in front of their home crowd and the fear of losing to us would add that much extra pressure on the Indians and benefit our team.”
Wednesday’s victory sealed Pakistan’s first appearance in the semi-finals of the showpiece event since 1999 and sparked jubilant celebrations in the country with heavy aerial firing while fans poured out on to the streets to dance and sing together.
“I think the Pakistani nation deserves something to celebrate because of the problems we have faced as a nation for so many years. Winning the World Cup would be a great gift for our people,” Imran said.
Unable to play international matches at home, tainted by a spot-fixing scandal that robbed them of the services of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, add in the confusion over team and captain selections — Pakistan cricket was in disarray before the World Cup.
But Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Ijaz Butt said Shahid Afridi’s men had helped to heal the wounds of the nation.
“The way the team has performed it has shown great character and I pray they go on to win the World Cup because if would be fantastic for Pakistan cricket and help in restoring international cricket in the country,” Butt noted.