Excited to face arch-rivals India for the second time in the Asia Cup on Sunday, Pakistan wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan said his team-mates had joked each other that it’s a “best of three-match series” between the two sides in the ongoing continental tournament. India and Pakistan can still face in the summit clash here on September 11 whatever the outcome of the match on Sunday and that will make the arch-rivals face each other three times — all of them on Sundays. India had beaten Pakistan by five wickets last Sunday.
“Fans from both countries anticipate a third meeting in next week’s final. We have jokingly said among ourselves that it’s a best of three-match series (between India and Pakistan),” Rizwan said in Sharjah after Pakistan’s mammoth 155-run win over Hong Kong.
Political tensions meant that there has been no bilateral series between the two countries for nearly a decade now and the Asia Cup has somewhat quenched the hunger of the fans.
Rizwan starred with an unbeaten 78 as Pakistan posted 193/2 before bowling out Hong Kong for a record low of 38 to confirm their passage to ‘Super 4’.
Pakistan will begin their ‘Super 4’ campaign against India here on Sunday, in a repeat of their Asia Cup opener at the same venue exactly a week ago.
Competing alongside Afghanistan and Sri Lanka in the round-robin Super 4, India and Pakistan are fancied to finish top-two to set up a yet another Sunday showdown in the Asia Cup final here on September 11.
“Playing India is always a pressure game. Even people outside Asia wait for it. Obviously it’s always like a ‘final’ as there’s so much passion involved in this game.
“We have to play good cricket and make the final. Obviously, we have to strengthen our cricket and put in the hard work,” the 30-year-old said.
Just a year ago, Pakistan defeated India at the T20 World Cup here with Rizwan and skipperplaying key roles.
Rizwan said the success mantra in these high pressure games is to keep it normal and simple.
“The pressure will be equally on India and us, but the result will be with whoever remains brave and keeps calm.
“The more you keep the game normal, it is better as it’s the best thing to do. I tell players, whether you play India or Hong Kong, at the end of the day you have to play with bat and ball.
“So it’s about keeping it simple. Yes, it’s a big game and the boys are high on confidence. We will put in the hard work.” From Pakistan’s perspective, they would hope that their star skipper Babar Azam is back among runs.
The world’s No. 1 T20I and ODI batter has a quiet start to the Asia Cup with low scores of 10 and 9 against India and Hong Kong respectively but Rizwan said it’s just a matter of time before his captain finds his form.
“Babar is a superstar and he is world No 1. He knows how to go about it and it has been just two innings and we sometimes keep saying that he doesn’t get an evil eye. He has scored a lot of runs for us in the past and this has been just two games,” Rizwan said.
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