Skipper Babar Azam has vowed that Pakistan would not heed the previous poor record against their arch-rivals India when they meet in the most intense and highly anticipated Twenty20 World Cup clash in Dubai on Sunday.

Pakistan will be starting as underdogs as they have lost all seven World Cup (50 over) clashes against India as well as five games in the Twenty20 World Cup.

In exuding confidence, Pakistan’s skipper Babar Azam has stressed that the past is irrelevant to his players.

Babar said, “To be honest, what has passed is beyond us. 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 rivals, due to their stained relations, could not play in bilateral series since 2012 and have only played in multi-national events like the World Cups and the Cham­pions Trophy.

Pakistan did visit India in 2012 for three limited over matches but there has been no series since then as the two nations continue to be in tussle over multiple statehood issues, with the disputed Kashmir issue heading the list.

Babar admitted that the match would be very intense, The skipper said, “The matches between Pakistan and India are always full of intensity so we need to perform well in all three departments of the game.”

Babar announced 12 for the match with hard-hitters Haider Ali and Asif Ali competing to make the final eleven.

Babar added, “The boys are excited to play the World Cup and we have a crucial match on Sunday. A winning impact is necessary and then we will go match by match.”

Babar said that the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who led the country to 1992 World Cup victory, had shared his experiences with the team.

The world number 1 batsman in ODI said, “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.”

Kohli’s outlook

India captain Virat Kohli, meanwhile, observed his side’s impeccable tournament record against Pakistan will count for nothing and they will need to be at their very best to overcome Babar Azam’s side.

Kohli, who will relinquish Twenty20 captaincy after the showpiece event, knows the importance of beginning well and said he is not thinking about his side’s record against Pakistan which brings its own pressure.

The Indian captain said, “We never discussed it within the team — what our record is, or what we achieved in the past,” the 32-year-old told a news conference on Saturday. “They distract you. What matters is how you prepare and how you perform on that given day regardless of opposition. These things add pressure.”

The match is a repeat of the 2007 final when India pipped Pakistan to the inaugural title after a heart-stopping match.

Kohli said teams would underestimate the 2009 champions at their own peril. He said, “The current Pakistan team is very strong, they always have been so. They are very talented, with several players who can change the game anytime.” 

Kohli said. “Against a team like that, you need to arrive with your best plans, and make sure you execute it well. We definitely have to bring our A game tomorrow.”

Earlier the skipper had said, “For me, it’s never been different to any other game of cricket that we play.

“Yes, the atmosphere in the stadium is different but our mindset is no different, our preparations are no different, and our approach to the game is certainly no different.”

MS Dhoni Presence

India’s two-time World Cup-winning skipper M.S. Dhoni is with the team as mentor and Kohli said that the icon’s presence in the dressing room will further ‘boost’ their morale.

Dhoni-led India to the inaugural T20 World Cup crown in 2007, beating Pakistan in the final, and holding a 7-1 advantage in the shortest format.

Pakistan’s only win came in a bilateral series which ended 1-1.

Pakistan will depend on the experience of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik while Babar, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman hold the key at the top of the order.

The bowling, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali, looks potent to trouble any opposition in the Super 12 stage.

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.

The Teams:

INDIA: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami.

PAKISTAN: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Haider Ali/Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf.

Umpires: Marais Erasmus (South Africa) and Chris Gaffaney (New Zealand).

TV umpire: Richard Illingworth (England).

Match referee: David Boon (Australia).


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