'At the end of the day, an India-Pakistan game has got more to do with pressure than anything else. The team that handles the 'P-factor' better on the day is more likely to win'
'Shoaib Malik is the danger man in the Pak squad'
Harbhajan Singh feels it's advantage India as Pakistan lack enough "youngsters capable of handling pressure" associated with big-ticket games such as the one in the ICC Champions Trophy in Birmingham on Sunday.
The match at the Edgbaston will be the tournament opener for the sub-continent rivals.
"I haven't seen too many youngsters capable of handling pressure in the current Pakistani set-up," the veteran spinner wrote in a column for ICC.
Harbhajan said handling pressure will be the key.
"At the end of the day, an India-Pakistan game has got more to do with pressure than anything else. The team that handles the 'P-factor' better on the day is more likely to win.
"Over the years, India has learnt how to deal with pressure. And this isn't just against Pakistan. In any case, the Pakistani team of the day is no match for its teams of the past. There was a time when Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf used to play in the same team!"
Harbhajan is one of the very few cricketers to have won all the three ICC major tournaments -- Champions Trophy in 2002, World T20 in 2007 and World Cup in 2011.
He picked Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir as the danger men from the Pakistani side.
"I quite like Sarfraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper-batsman. Also, their batting isn't anywhere close to what South Africa (AB de Villiers and Faf Du Plessis) and India (MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma) can boast," said Harbhajan.
"When it comes to the 'danger-man' in their squad, I think Shoaib Malik is one player who plays spin really well. Once he gets used to the conditions, he can take on any bowler, be it a spinner or a fast bowler.
"The other player to watch out for is skipper Sarfraz because he is very intelligent. In the bowling department, Pakistan has Mohammad Amir. India needs to play him carefully, especially when he's armed with the new ball."
Contrary to the hype, Harbhajan felt Pakistan don't pose as much problems for India as some other big teams do.
"At the international level, there is pressure before any game. I would say that there is now more pressure when we face South Africa and Australia or even England for that matter. These teams worry us more than Pakistan. There is always pressure. If there is no pressure, you will be over-confident.
"Having said that, an India-Pakistan game does get treated differently."
He recalled the India-Pakistan semifinal in the 2011 50-over World Cup in Mohali.
"I remember the India-Pakistan semi-final in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. I didn't sleep the night before the match because I was constantly thinking about what people would say and how they would react if we were to lose," Harbhajan said.
"I remember telling a few people to keep vigil outside my home so that the crowd doesn't break anything should things not go our way. One does think about such things too.
"People expect a lot more from you when you play Pakistan. It seems like we're going to war with them. This certainly gets to the players."