Pakistan's PM Imran Khan weighs in on cricket lineup

Cricket captain-turned prime minister, Khan led Pakistan to the World Cup title in 1992.

    The Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan is being held at Old Trafford in Manchester [Andrew Boyers/Reuters]
    The Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan is being held at Old Trafford in Manchester [Andrew Boyers/Reuters]

    Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has weighed in on the selection of the national XI for the highly anticipated Cricket World Cup group game against India on Sunday. 

    It's not garden-variety political interference, though. Khan led Pakistan to their Cricket World Cup title in 1992.

    He has advised skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed to go in with specialists in the batting and bowling departments.

    "In order to have a winning offensive strategy Sarfaraz must go in with specialist batsmen and bowlers," Khan posted on Twitter in the hours leading up to Sunday's match in Manchester, England.

    Khan also said that both teams will be under "great mental pressure, and the power of the mind will decide the outcome of the match. In Sarfaraz we are fortunate to have a bold captain & today he will have to be at his daring best".

    India have won all six previous World Cup head-to-heads with archrival Pakistan.

    Khan said the world number two team would start as favourites to win but advised the Pakistani players to "banish all fear of losing".

    "Just give your best and fight till the last ball. Then accept whatever the result like true sportsmen. The nation's prayers are with all of you. Good Luck," he said.

    Manchester weather

    Much hinges on Manchester's weather and whether the group-stage encounter achieves a result.

    It was overcast and cool on Sunday morning, an hour before the scheduled toss at Old Trafford stadium was expected to be at a capacity of 23,500 people. According to Pakistan cricket coach Mickey Arthur, tickets could have been easily sold out 20-times over.

    Almost 800,000 people applied for tickets, which were sold out within 48 hours of their release, and more than a billion people are expected to tune in for the match, according to the ICC.

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    India have beaten Pakistan in all six previous World Cup encounters, including the 2011 semifinal at Mohali before they went on to win the title on home soil.

    But Pakistan had an upset win over India in the Champions Trophy final in England two years ago and they have won more games overall in the meetings in one-day internationals.

    The forecast includes showers and generally overcast conditions on Sunday, but organisers were hoping to at least get the game started on schedule at 10:30am local time (09:30 GMT).

    India won their first two games against South Africa and defending champions Australia before having to share the points with 2015 finalists New Zealand following a washout in Nottingham.

    Pakistan lost their opening game to West Indies, and then rebounded to upset top-ranked England. They followed that with a washout against Sri Lanka and a loss to Australia on Wednesday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies