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All the queries were about the opening encounter of the Super 10 stage. The Friday Blockbuster — India vs Pakistan.
Pakistan have won just one of their five T20 clashes against India and they have never beaten India in eight clashes in the World Cup (5 in ODIS and 3 in T20s). India will be looking to maintain that record while Pakistan, arguably a better T20 side, will be looking to break that jinx. “We never look at that record and neither do we look at that game as a big one. It is just hyped up by all the people around it,” feels India’s star batsman Virat Kohli.
Tell him about India’s spotless record against Pakistan and he says, “We will not go out there to keep that record intact. We will go and play good cricket and try not to get too desperate.”
That game will once again be about Pakistan’s bowling vs India’s batting which has been shored up by the arrival of key limited overs personnel like fit-again skipper MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina.
Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez acknowledges the fact that Dhoni’s return will bolster India, but doesn’t want to concede any ground to the opposition. When pointed out that Pakistan won in the Asia Cup because India missed their regular skipper, Hafeez retorted, “I believe that whichever team is put out on the park is the best in that country. India’s team in the Asia Cup was their best in the tournament and we beat them. The absence of any one individual or his return to the side doesn’t make that much difference. Yes, MS Dhoni’s leadership and return is a key factor as he has done well but we won’t enter the game with the mindset that we won in the Asia Cup because he was not there.” In fact, Hafeez is rather happy to get the pressure match out of the way quickly. “You enjoy playing such pressure matches. As a captain I am delighted that the first match is against India and if we do well, the other games will appear easier,” he analysed.
Fast bowler Sohail Tanveer, the left-handed version of Mike Procter, (he too bowls off the wrong foot), also is looking to renew hostilities against the team he first played against in the inaugural edition of the World T20 in South Africa. “It’ll be about our bowling vs their batting. It’s always been like that. We have always produced wicket-taking bowlers. India’s pacers though are short on international experience. But their batting is strong. With the inclusion of Dhoni, Raina and Yuvraj, India have the strongest batting line-up in this tournament,” he stressed.
While all the talk is about India and Pakistan, the group boats of two more in-form and highly entertaining T20 sides. Australia and West Indies. Their existence though will be noticed only after March 21.