India-Pakistan rivalry bigger than Ashes: Ashwin

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Kolkata, March 18 (IANS) Terming the India-Pakistan rivalry bigger than the Ashes, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Friday asserted that the hosts were more focused on performing well in the World T20 rather than pondering over their opponents.

“This rivalry is huge. It is hard to say how huge it is. It is probably bigger than Ashes. As far as Indians and Pakistanis go, it is more of a border rivalry. Both teams want to get one-up on each other,” Ashwin said on the eve of the high-voltage game at the Eden Gardens.

“There is so much to the game rather than the game taking the centre stage. As far as people are concerned they put their emotions in the game. As a player it is about keeping the emotions aside.”

Ashwin said the team is not under undue pressure at the prospect of facing their old rivals.

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“We don’t see much pressure. We are used to playing a lot of India-Pakistan games. Every game is a pressure for us. We are used to it and we can handle it so it is not about pressure. We have put ourselves in such a position. Now we need to win and need to focus on doing well than pondering over our opponents,” he said.

The tweaker also said that no spinner has an edge going into the game on Saturday but they need to play to their potential to win.

In Nagpur, India failed to chase down New Zealand 126/7 to lose by 47 runs.

“If we knew we would be all out for 79, we would have tried to get them out for a lesser score unfortunately we did not. Also credit goes to the New Zealand side in the way they bowled. But in tomorrow’s game nobody has an edge. Pakistan is upbeat after their win. We need to play to our potential and win,” he said.

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The batting failed miserably in Nagpur, but Ashwin insists they will get into the game with only a few fine tunings.

“We will relook on our batting approach after the World Cup. Not the right time to have a look at it. It is now about fine tuning the strategies and trusting them going into the game. We just cannot change the whole lot,” Ashwin said.

The 29-year-old also believes India will need to seize the momentum to win at Eden.

“Same approach, manage to keep the pressure of people away from our preparation so that is a plus. Momentum was very important we lost that in Nagpur and we will have to pick it from the Eden,” he said.

“If there is an international team that can leave things behind, it’s us. We have done it in the past and we believe we can do it again. From here if we go to the finals we will be a force to reckon with.”

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The Indian players have mostly kept to themselves since their arrival in the city. Though on Friday the whole bunch trained, only three players were present for the optional practice session the day before.

Asked about it, Ashwin said, “More about try and relaxing. It has nothing to do with whom we are playing. We have been on the road for the last three months and now it is about sitting in hotel rooms and pondering what we did wrong. We wanted to think rather than go through some nervous practice session.”

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