Pakistan captain Babar Azam vows to rewrite his country’s woeful World Cup record in Dubai… starting with their blockbuster clash against India
- Babar Azam played down his team’s miserable World Cup record against India
- The fractious nature of Indo-Pak relations means only ICC events now occur
- Pakistan memorably beat India in the 2017 Champions Trophy final at The Oval
- Since, however, they have lost four out of five against them in T20 World Cup
Twelve matches between the sides across both the one-day and Twenty20 tournaments have produced 11 Indian wins and a tie – with their dramatic victory over the Pakistanis in the 2007 World T20 final at Johannesburg ushering in the IPL and a global fixation with the money-spinning 20-over format.
The fractious nature of Indo-Pak relations, particularly over the disputed region of Kashmir, means the two countries play each other these days only at ICC events.
Babar Azam has played down his Pakistan team’s miserable World Cup record against India
And while Pakistan memorably beat India in the 2017 Champions Trophy final at The Oval, they have lost four out of five against them in T20 World Cups, and seven out of seven at the 50-over equivalent.
‘We have forgotten what we have done in the past and we are trying to focus on the future,’ said Azam, the world’s No 2 batsman in the format, behind England’s Dawid Malan. ‘We will try to do better in the field, and in this match try to produce better results.’
‘We are trying to focus on the future,’ says Pakistan star Azam ahead of the showdown
If that sounded a sensible enough approach to a fixture that rarely allows time or space for clear thinking, then his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli said the only way to cope with the hype was to treat the match like any other. It may prove easier said than done.
‘We need to be in the most balanced place possible,’ he said. ‘It’s very important for us to keep focused on the cricket, because with a game like this there’s such unnecessary stuff happening on the outside.
‘That’s fine, as long as that stays outside our controlled environment and we just focus on what we need to do as cricketers. Hence, I always maintain that for me it’s never been different to any other game of cricket we play.’
Virat Kohli says the only way to cope with the hype was to treat the match like any other
India, whose players acclimatised to conditions in the Gulf during the recent IPL, start the tournament as favourites, though they have reached only one of the five finals since winning the 2007 competition.
With Kohli set to step down as captain of the T20 side after this tournament so he can focus on the Test and 50-over jobs, victory in the UAE would be the perfect sign-off.