Skipper Babar Azam vowed his team will not think about Pakistan’s poor record against arch-rivals India when they meet in a high-octane Twenty20 World Cup match in Dubai on Sunday. Pakistan has lost all seven World Cup (50 over) clashes against India as well as five games in the Twenty20 World Cup and start as ‘underdogs’. Exuding confidence, Babar stressed that the past is irrelevant to his players. “To be honest, what has passed is beyond us,” Babar told a virtual media conference on Saturday, as both nations buzzed in anticipation of a thrilling match.
“We want to use our ability and confidence on the day of the match so that we can get a better result. “Records are meant to be broken.” The tickets for the match were sold out within hours of going on sale after the United Arab Emirate government allowed a 70 percent crowd for the Twenty20 World Cup matches in a relaxation of the Covid-19 restrictions. The South Asian nuclear rivals have only played in multi-national events like the World Cups and the Champions Trophy as strained relations have stalled bilateral cricket since 2007.
Pakistan did tour India in 2012 for five limited over matches but ties were not fully resumed as the two nations continued to be at loggerheads over multiple issues, with the disputed region of Kashmir and terrorism heading the list. Babar admitted it will be a match full of intensity. “The matches between Pakistan and India are always full of intensity so we need to perform well in all three departments of the game,” said Babar. The second round matches — Super 12 Stage — start on Saturday with Australia taking on South Africa in Abu Dhabi while defending champions the West Indies face England in Dubai in the evening match in Group 1.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are the other two teams in the Group. Former champions India and Pakistan are placed in Group 2 along with New Zealand, Afghanistan, and Scotland, and Namibia, who both came through the qualifying stage. Babar announced 12 for the match with hard-hitters Haider Ali and Asif Ali competing to make the final eleven. “The boys are excited to play the World Cup and we have a crucial match on Sunday,” said Babar, who will be leading Pakistan for the first time in a senior World Cup match. “A winning impact is necessary and then we will go match by match.”
Babar said Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan — who led the country to victory in the 1992 World Cup — had shared his experiences with the team. “The Prime Minister met us before our departure and shared his experiences of the 1992 win and told us to play aggressive and fearless cricket against India.” Earlier this week, India won both their warm-up matches, beating England and Australia while Pakistan beat the West Indies but lost to South Africa.
Pakistan and India will face each other on October 24. The contest between the two nations is a highly anticipated one wherein the cricket on-lookers have been raring to watch the action unfold. India, however, has a dominating record in the ICC events against the Men in Green. India has won on seven occasions against their arch-rivals in 50 over World Cups whereas they have triumphed five times against them in the T20 World Cup. The two teams do not play any bilateral series against each other owing to the political tensions between the nations. They only face each other in the ICC events.
About the T20 World Cup, the Babar Azam-led side has played a lot of cricket in the UAE. This is expected to provide an edge to the team in the marquee event. The Pakistan captain had shed light on these aspects and said the team is well versed with the playing conditions. “Definitely we have played a lot of cricket in the UAE. These conditions suit us and we know how to play here. We need to keep things simple in all the departments,” the Pakistan skipper had earlier asserted.
Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Rizwan(wk), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf