Ahead of the highly-anticipated India-Pakistan match in Asia Cup 2022, Pakistan captain Babar Azam stated that although his team will be reflecting positively on the 10-wicket win over India in Men’s T20 World Cup last year in Dubai, his team will be keeping in mind that Asia Cup matches are being played in new conditions.
Sunday’s clash in Dubai will see the resumption of the ‘greatest rivalry’ in the world of cricket when India and Pakistan open their Asia Cup Group A campaign. This will also be the first meeting between these two teams after facing off in the Men’s T20 World Cup last year in the UAE, where Pakistan secured a resounding 10-wicket win over India, their first such victory in Men’s World Cups.
“I know there is tremendous excitement in both countries but for us, it is just another game. Our preparations have been excellent and we will take the field oozing with confidence. Our victory over India 11 months ago at the same venue is a good reference point, but that’s all. While we will continue to reflect on it positively, Sunday and any other matches down the line will be new fixtures that will be played in new conditions,” said Azam on the eve of the match.
Before the start of their campaign in the Asia Cup, Pakistan were dealt with blows like the absence of left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi due to a right knee injury and more recently, right-arm pace Mohammad Wasim Jr. was ruled out due to a side strain.
“We have a squad full of quality cricketers and match-winners, who will step up in the absence of Shaheen Shah Afridi and take additional responsibility during the tournament. In the 2021 T20 World Cup, we have already demonstrated we are not a one-man squad. In five league matches, we had five different players of the matches,” observed Azam.
Azam was also touched by the fact that Indian players like Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Yuzvendra Chahal and K.L Rahul met an injured Afridi and enquired about his recovery from a knee injury. But he reminded that Pakistan will fight hard to win Sunday’s match.
“I was actually touched by the way they met Shaheen Shah Afridi during Thursday’s training session and expressed their support to him. The visuals of the players interacting with each other were also heartwarming and reflected the respect and friendship they enjoy. But on the match day, everything will be kept aside and players from either side will come hard at each other in an effort to overpower the other.”
Provided both the sides progress to the Super Four stage from Group A, which also includes qualifiers winners Hong Kong, India and Pakistan could possibly meet again on Sunday, September 4, apart from the final on September 11 if both teams are in the top two finish in Super Four.
“I have always believed you don’t need any additional motivation to play and perform for Pakistan. Representing your country at a global stage itself is a huge honour and pride, and the objective is always to make the country proud,” concluded Azam.