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ENGLAND V PAKISTAN: WORLD CUP FINAL PREVIEW

— 11 November 2022

Ottis Gibson can sit back relax and enjoy Sunday’s T20 World Cup final, assured in the belief that Yorkshire’s Vitality Blast team will benefit from the occasion whatever the result.

England versus Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (8am UK) could include four players who will represent the county next season; Harry Brook, Dawid Malan and Adil Rashid for England and new club captain Shan Masood for Pakistan.

Haris Rauf, Shadab Khan and David Willey could also play, and they also represented the county in 2022.

While England are bidding to add a second T20 World Cup crown to their 2019 triumph in 50-over cricket, Pakistan are bidding to emulate Imran Khan’s ‘Cornered Tigers’ of 1992, the team which beat England to win that year’s 50-over crown.

Gibson believes England, who have won four of six games so far only losing one, have the edge, but it is only that according to Yorkshire’s head coach who won this event in 2012 as coach of the West Indies. 

Pakistan, meanwhile, have won four on the bounce after losing their opening two fixtures.  

“There’s no overwhelming favourites in a final,” he said. “One or two players can have a day out and turn the tables on what you think may happen.

“England’s recent history of winning the 2019 World Cup and the way they’ve played makes them favourites, and deservedly so. But Pakistan are such a dangerous team.

“There’s been a lot said about them winning the World Cup in Australia in 1992 with Imran Khan’s team. Now, 30 years later, they have an opportunity to emulate that on the same ground. Sentiment is on their side.

“But England are a very good side with match winners all the way through.”

Gibson laughed when asked for a prediction: “Oh, that’s tough!

“Pakistan have match-winners, but they have been a bit reliant on one or two. England have in-form match-winners all the way through their line-up. 

“If England get in trouble at the top, they have such a strong middle order to get them out of trouble.

“90,000 people at the MCG is going to be a great occasion. They will be two teams with a lot of support, although I think Pakistan might pip England in terms of the support stakes.

“They are two good teams, and hopefully we will see a really good game. I think England just edge it.”

On the significant Yorkshire involvement, he said: “It’s amazing. 

“When you think about the Blast next year, somebody in our team will be a World Cup champion – be it Brook, Malan and Rash or Shan Masood.

“We’re going to have that confidence in our dressing room, someone who can teach our younger players what it takes to be a world champion – the trials and tribulations you have to go through to do it.

“Haris Rauf also played for us this year, Shadab did as well.

“Shadab didn’t light it up for us like he’s been doing in the World Cup, but we knew that he was a world-class performer.

“I’d like to think his time with us has helped him. He played on some non-spinning pitches in the Blast, and he’s encountered some of that in Australia. He’s had to tap into some different skills to make an impact.

“I’m happy for them all and am really looking forward to Sunday.”

He continued: “One thing I think, and I’ve said this before when it comes to ICC events, is that semi-finals and finals in major tournaments should all be played on fresh pitches.

“England’s game against India was on a fresh pitch I think. But the pitch for the other semi, I think favoured Pakistan more than it did New Zealand because it was a used pitch.

“That’s one thing I’d like the ICC to look at, making sure no one team has an advantage.

“Hopefully Sunday will be on a fresh pitch, and we’ll see who deserves to be champions.”

Yorkshire fans know all about Brook, Rashid and Malan, the latter who faces a race against time to be fit having missed yesterday’s semi-final win over India with a groin injury. 

But they will be getting to know new captain Masood, the left-handed batter who joins the club on a two-year overseas deal. 

Masood has had an impressive campaign so far in Pakistan’s top order, hitting 137 runs with a top score of 52 not out and at an average of 45.66. He hit the winning runs in Wednesday’s semi-final against New Zealand in Sydney.

“From talking to Shan and being around him at Multan, he’s a very confident guy,” said Gibson. “The thing he will have to do quickly is get to know his team-mates when he comes to us at the start of the summer.

“But he’s a real good people person, and that will be important for him as he tries to do that – to understand their capabilities, who you can put in a pressure situation, that type of thing.

“I want him to be a brave captain. I’ve often said that you have to risk losing in the pursuit of winning, and I want him to be that for us. I want us to play winning cricket in all formats.

“We have spoken a lot on text message about what winning looks like and about a few other things around Yorkshire.

“I’ve tried to keep out of his way whilst he’s in a major tournament like this, but I’ve wished him well, as I have with all of our other guys.”

Gibson’s West Indies beat hosts Sri Lanka in the 2012 final, an achievement he ranks as one of his best in cricket.

“As a coach, as a West Indian, to go and win a tournament like that was fantastic,” he said.

“I don’t think we were fancied to win it. Everybody said that we had good individuals, but they didn’t think we could put it together as a team and win it. That was the biggest satisfaction for me.”

So what advice would he give to his Yorkshire players involved on Sunday.

“It’s an opportunity to go out and showcase your talent,” he added.

“This is what you play for, why you get up in a morning and go for that 5km run or do that gym session or get in the nets and work on your batting or bowling.

“To be involved in a major final like this is why you put all the work in.

“The last thing you want to do is freeze in the moment when you get there. Just embrace the moment and be brave.”

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