Pakistan's Khan cheers on team before match with India

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan’s Prime Minister and former Cricket star Imran Khan on Sunday sent messages of support and advice to the national team before a hotly anticipated match with arch-rival India in the Cricket World Cup in England.

The two neighbors will face off at Old Trafford in Manchester today, in a match likely to have over one billion TV viewers in South Asia and other countries glued to their screens.

Khan, in a series of tweets, gave counsel and encouragement to his country’s team.

"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 on Twitter.

“In Sarfaraz [Pakistan team captain], we are fortunate to have a bold captain & today he will have to be at his daring best,” he added.

Khan urged the players to “banish” any thought of losing, warning: “Fear of losing leads to a negative & defensive strategy & crucially mistakes by opponents are not pounced upon."

After giving detailed advice on playing tactics, Khan said: "Finally, even though India may be the favourites … 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."

Two-time World Cup winner India is so far unbeaten at the tournament, while Pakistan lost two of their four matches in the ongoing tournament.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qoueshi, who is in London on an official visit, is also set to watch the big-ticket match.

"I am here in the ground to watch the today match and our prayers are with our team," Qureshi said in his statement.