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Cricket rivals India, Pakistan set for high-voltage Dubai contest

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Cricket rivals India, Pakistan set for high-voltage Dubai contest

Both sides are beginning their campaign for Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament at a venue where India suffered a 10-wicket thrashing to Pakistan in last year’s T20 World Cup.

Pakistan's Babar Azam plays down the rivalry between the two teams after a journalist compares the heat of Dubai to the clash between the South Asian giants.
Pakistan’s Babar Azam plays down the rivalry between the two teams after a journalist compares the heat of Dubai to the clash between the South Asian giants.
(Reuters Archive)

Fierce rivals India and Pakistan are preparing to clash in the Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament in Dubai for only the 10th time in cricket’s shortest format.

Sunday’s high-voltage game comes amid political tensions and territorial disputes between both nuclear-armed countries, especially on Kashmir. 

The cricket giants only face each other in international tournaments, with the two teams beginning their campaign at a venue where India suffered a 10-wicket thrashing to Babar Azam’s Pakistan in last year’s T20 World Cup.

On Saturday, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma said India have learnt from their previous loss to Pakistan but playing their arch-rivals in the hotly-anticipated Asia Cup match will be a challenge.

“The mood in the camp is buzzing. It’s a fresh tournament, a new start. Not to think about what has happened in the past and that’s how the team moves forward,” Rohit told reporters.

Dubai has witnessed lot of warmth between the players of both the teams and on Friday Rohit went out of his way to meet a group of cheering Pakistan fans at the practice venue.

Azam and Indian superstar Virat Kohli also exchanged pleasantries, a sight not very common between players of the two nations, which have fought three wars, including two over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Azam played down the rivalry between the two teams after a journalist compared the heat of Dubai to the upcoming clash between the South Asian giants.

“No heat at all,” Azam said with a smile. “It’s normal and we have to adjust to everything as a professional.”

Azam remains the star performer with the bat for Pakistan and remains key to the team’s success in the absence of pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi, who was forced out due to a knee injury.

Kohli ‘faked intensity’ during mental crisis

Meanwhile, Kohli said on Saturday that his mental health suffered during an extended slump in form and that he had attempted to “fake intensity” to put up a brave front.

The 33-year-old Kohli will return to action after taking a month-long break.

“For the first time in 10 years I have not touched a bat since a month,” Kohli told Asia Cup broadcasters Star Sports.

“I came to the realisation that I was trying to fake my intensity a bit, recently. ‘No, I can do it competitively’ and convincing yourself that you have intensity but your body is telling you to stop.”
Source: AFP


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