India are the only Asian team to progress to the semi-finals of World Cup 2019 which has led former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar to back India to lift the World Cup trophy on July 14 at Lord's in London. Other than India, all the other teams from Asia including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan exited the tournament following the end of the league stage. So far, India have dominated the tournament, topping the 10-team table by winning seven matches and losing only to hosts and pre-tournament favourites England. India's game against New Zealand was washed out without a single ball being bowled.
India will take on will take on the New Zealand in the first semi-final in Manchester on Tuesday.
"New Zealand can't take pressure. I hope they don't choke this time. But I really want the World Cup to stay in the subcontinent and I think, I will back India all the way," Akhtar said in his YouTube channel.
Rohit Sharma who has been in sublime form in the ongoing World Cup scored his record fifth century of the tournament against Sri Lanka in the last league match at Leeds on Saturday. Rohit bettered the record set by former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara in the 2015 World Cup.
Rohit hit a fine 103 to help India thrash the Lankans by seven wickets in their final league game to finish with 15 points from 9 games. Rohit got support from the other end as KL Rahul scored his maiden World Cup hundred.
Praising Rohit and KL Rahul's performances, Akhtar said, "Rohit Sharma has great timing and shot selection. His understanding of the game is also superb. K.L. Rahul also got his ton which is a good thing".
Akhtar opined that the net run-rate rule is a "cruel thing" and Pakistan played better cricket than the Kiwis but failed to go through on this count.
"Pakistan played better than New Zealand. I really thought they would make it but the net run rate is a cruel thing."
Pakistan finished fifth with 11 points, same as New Zealand, but lost out due to an inferior net run-rate. In 2015, Australia beat New Zealand to win the World Cup.
Australia will lock horns with England in the second semi-final that is scheduled to be played at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Thursday.
(With IANS inputs)