New Delhi, Feb 11: One of Pakistan's finest opening batsmen and current chief selector, Aamer Sohail feels this World cup will heavily rely on openers and it will be challenging for them to perform under new rules on fast and bouncy pitches of Australia and New Zealand.
One of the heroes of Pakistan's 1992 title triumph, Sohail, who had scored 326 runs in 10 matches, said that good starts will be crucial for any team's success in World Cup.
"I think this WC will heavily rely on openers as they have to set the tone. It is not going to be easy for them on fast and bouncy pitches of Australia and New Zealand and they have to face two new balls under the new rules. It will be very challenging for batters," Sohail told PTI Bhasha in an interview from Karachi.
When asked which team has the best opening combination in the tournament, Sohail named Australia and South Africa.
"Australia and South Africa have best opening pairs and they are in form as well," he added. Dangerous David Warner and Aaron Finch will open for Australia, while South Africa will rely on Hashim Amla and Quinton De Cock to open the innings.
Sohail, who alongwith Saeed Anwar formed one of the best opening combinations that Pakistan has ever had, also feels that it will be difficult for subcontinent teams to make it to the last four this time.
"I feel that Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will be top contenders for the semifinal while fourth team could be England. It will be tough for sub continent teams to reach last four this time considering the current form, bowling attack and conditions. India can make it provided their bowling clicks," he said.
Pakistan's chief selector said that he is amused by India's decision to include two left-arm spinners in the squad. "I don't think it is a wise decision to take two left-arm spinners to Australia.
They should have picked one right arm leg spinner," said Sohail, who has scored 4780 runs in 156 ODIs in his international career.
'Pakistan has fitness issues, but still our bowling is good'
Sohail also expressed concern over growing injury list of Pakistani players but said that the team still has enough depth in bowling and can surprise all in WC.
Pakistan has already been forced to make two replacements to their World Cup squad with Junaid Khan first being replaced by Rahat Ali and then Mohammad Hafeez making way for out-of-form opener, Nasir Jamshed.
The latest player to suffer a fitness problem is fast bowler, Sohail Khan who has developed a calf muscle strain after bowling just six overs in the warm-up game against Bangladesh.
"Pakistan has fitness issues but still our bowling is good and if they restrict opposition under 250- 260, they can turn it around," he said.
India and Pakistan will open their campaign against each other on February 15. India has cent per cent win record against Pakistan in World Cup but Sohail said that past record don't matter in a new match.
"Indian team will be under more pressure to perform while Pakistan has nothing to loose. Last year in Asia cup also India were favourites but we beat them in that league match. So past records don't matter in a new game," he said.
Pakistan had defeated India by one wicket in the Asia cup match played on March 2 last year. "Mindset will be the key and captains have to encourage their bowlers to take wickets as it will be the only way to restrict them. Whoever handles the pressure well, will win," he said.