Had the Asia Cup, hosted by India this time around, not moved to the United Arab Emirates the wait for a mouthwatering India-Pakistan clash would have got longer for cricket fans. Hours before the first of what would at least be two — with the possibility of a third — clashes between the two in less than two weeks, Usman Khan, the young Pakistan pacer, stressed on the importance of these matches.

“Players that do well in India-Pakistan games command a lot of respect. Their career changes overnight. I want to perform well in the game. I got three wickets today, hopefully against India I can get five,” Usman said on Monday night after accepting the Man-of-the-Match award for his three scalps in an over.

Usman’s effort set up Pakistan’s crushing eight-wicket defeat of Hong Kong in the first Group A tie. If India overcomes Hong Kong, Thursday’s tie will have no bearing on the tournament since the standings in Group A will neither be affected for deciding the venues for Super 4 nor will the group stage points be carried forward into the next stage.

Still, an India-Pakistan face-off is no less than a matter of national pride not just for the players but even for fans.

The youngster, however, refrained from starting the verbal volleys ahead of Thursday’s clash. “India is a number one team, and Pakistan is also a very good side and the players are in good form, so as far as the India Pakistan match goes, whichever team plays better on the day will win the match,” he said.