Pakistani Prime Minister and cricketing legend Imran Khan has sent a passionate message of support to the nation’s team as they prepare to face India in the World Cup in England.
The two neighbors meet in a group stage match at Old Trafford in Manchester, renewing one of sport’s fiercest rivalries in an encounter that will draw an estimated one billion TV viewers.
READ MORE: ‘We’re not focusing on the opposition’ – India star Kohli on Pakistan World Cup showdown (VIDEO)
Ahead of the match, Pakistani PM Khan – a former international fast bowler and icon of the sport – issued a passionate message to the team through Twitter.
“Today, given the intensity of the match, both teams will come under great mental pressure and the power of the mind will decide the outcome of the match today,” Khan wrote.
“In Sarfaraz [Ahmed] we are fortunate to have a bold captain & today he will have to be at his daring best.
“All fears of losing should be banished from the mind as the mind can only process one thought at a time. Fear of losing leads to a negative & defensive strategy & crucially mistakes by opponents are not pounced upon,” Khan added.
He then offered tactical tips to the team, urging them to go with specialist batsmen and bowlers rather than relying on “Raillu Kattas” – a term for all-rounders – also advising skipper Sarfaraz to bat first, should he win the toss.
Khan also noted India’s status as favorites for the game, but urged the team to “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.”
Two-time World Cup winners India are unbeaten at the tournament so far, while Pakistan have lost two of their four matches, winning once against hosts England and seeing their other match rained off.
India have won all of their previous World Cup encounters with Pakistan, but their smaller neighbors did claim victory in the final of the prestigious ICC Champions Trophy in London two years ago.
READ MORE: India v Pakistan: 1 billion fans set to tune in for Cricket World Cup mega-match
All eyes will also be on the weather in Manchester, with fears that the English climate could put the biggest dampener on proceedings as rain is forecast.