Pakistan captain Babar Azam is confident his team will be able to break the country’s longstanding India jinx in ICC World Cups this Sunday (October 24). The two-arch rivals kick-off their respective campaigns in the Super 12 round of the T20 World Cup 2021 with another much-awaited clash in Dubai.
Pakistan have lost all 12 of their previous clashes with India in the World Cups. Five of those have come in the T20 World Cups, including a bitter defeat in the final of the inaugural edition in 2007 in South Africa.
Given the history, India led by modern-day batting giant Virat Kohli are considered favourites by most fans and experts for Sunday’s encounter. But Babar said his team is looking to make a fresh start versus Kohli and company and are hopeful of finally getting over the line against the Indians in a World Cup.
“When you enter a big event, what matters the most is your belief and your confidence as a group. And I think our moral as a team is quite high. We’re not thinking of the past but looking ahead to the future and preparing well. I am pretty confident that we’ll be able to play good cricket on the day (against India) and come out on top,” Babar said in a virtual press conference arranged by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
While aware of the magnitude of the game against India, Babar also tried to downplay the hype a bit and said just because they are approaching a “high intensity” fixture, hasn’t meant that their preparations are any different to another game.
“The India-Pakistan game is always a big occasion, with huge intensity and pressure of expectations on all players involved, but as a player and a team, we are trying to best to keep the focus intact on cricket and keeping things easy and calm so as to perform to our level best on the night,” said the calm and composed Pakistan captain.
“There is no special planning and preparation as such. The planning is mostly related to the mindset, as cricket doesn’t change just because you’re facing India. So the planning is about being in a good mindset and handling the pressure well.”
We are well-versed with the conditions in UAE: Babar Azam
Given India’s skill and depth, the conditions in UAE are expected to favour them and enhance their impact throughout the tournament. Even against Pakistan, many feel India are in a prime position to exploit the surface in Dubai. But Babar Azam made it a point to state that his team is more aware of the grounds, the pitches and overall conditions in the Middle East.
Babar stressed on the fact that Pakistan had been playing in UAE for nearly a decade before the recent revival of cricket in his country. Babar has played 11 previous T20Is in UAE and has made 392 runs in those while averaging 49.00 with a strike-rate of 116.66, including four half-centuries.
“When you talk of conditions, we played for almost 3 to 4 years in UAE from the beginning of my career and thus, we are well verse with the conditions on offer (across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah). Our bowlers are aware of what lines and lengths to ball and our batters know what shots they can play on these wickets.”
“At the end of the day, the performance will decide which team comes out triumphant. But if you ask me, I am pretty confident that we’ll win,” Babar Azam concluded.