Venkatesh Prasad is no newbie to India-Pakistan clashes. The former Indian pacer, best remembered for his 5/27 against Pakistan in the 1999 ICC World Cup at Old Trafford got candid about the new Indian line-up and how they hold up against his own formidable team.
In a interview granted to Times of India (ToI) on the eve of the battle between the arch-nemeses at the same historic venue Prasad reminisced about his stellar performance and the memorable match from over two decades ago.
"It's been two decades since that game - a long time indeed! I remember that it was a must-win game for us. We had to defend a small score (227). Though the wicket was helping the fast bowlers, we'd to bowl in the right areas to defend it. The bowlers had to step up. Pakistan had a formidable batting lineup back then. So it wasn't easy, more so given the hype around the game. I wouldn't say it was my effort - of course (Javagal) Srinath, Debasis Mohanty bowled well too, and we were backed up by Anil Kumble," he was quoted as saying.
He heaped praise on Mohammad Azharuddin and Anil Kumble's fielding efforts as well as Nayan Mongia's wicket-keeping. Prasad attributed perseverance, self-confidence and never-say-die attitude to the remarkable win.
"What was important in that game was self-belief. It wasn't just about bowling in the right areas and defending a small score. It was about believing that you could do it. This is what the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Azharuddin and Srinath instilled in the team. We just wanted to fight till the last run. We never gave up", he said.
That day, Venkatesh Prasad had taken home the 'Man of the Match' award, all thanks to his match-winning five-for.
Returning to the scenario in present-day international cricket, he applauded India's current pace attack, spearheaded by Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami.
"Our fast bowling is now one of the best in the world. In fact, our current crop of fast bowlers - Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar Mohammad Shami - are far better than we were. They've got a fantastic seam position, swing, variation and pace. They're a full package. They're very talented and skilled", he said.
He also brushed aside some laments concerning the lack of swing in English conditions. On the contrary, he believes that the English pitch is particularly conducive to swing bowling, remarking that each new ball should give 10 to 12 overs of swing.
Post a rather easy win against Pakistan in Sunday's match, the confidence reposed by Venkatesh in the Indian pace attack does seem to be well justified.