Ahead of one of cricket’s most intense and popular contests, both India and Pakistan tried to portray their camps in the best state of preparedness. While India drew confidence from its unbeaten run against Pakistan in world events, the latter was upbeat about its good fortune at Eden Gardens.
“If at all there is an international team which can put it [a defeat] behind and go forward, it is us. It is not the first time that it has happened to us. We have done it in the past. We have it in us to come back from behind and that is what we are looking forward to,” the mainstay of Indian spin attack, >R. Ashwin said on Friday. Brushing aside the question about the pressure of facing a team like Pakistan, Ashwin said, “More than thinking who we are playing, it is important to see it as a World T20 match. We have almost put ourselves in a position that we have to win our remaining games.”
Pakistan coach and pace legend Waqar Younis said, “History also changes” when he was reminded of India’s unbeaten record against his team in world events. He drew heart from the fact that Kolkata has always been kind to his team in the past. “Kolkata has always been kind to us, not only on (the field) but off the field too. History suggests we play better here and we would look to repeat it. So, that gives us the advantage,” Younis said.
“As far the Indians and Pakistanis go, I don't think they watch this game as a game of cricket. It is more of a border rivalry where they want to get one up on each other,” said Ashwin. The ace Indian spinner said all this makes the India-Pakistan matches the best cricketing contest in the world. “This rivalry is huge, it is hard to say exactly how huge it is... it is probably bigger than the Ashes,” he said.
Younis felt that Pakistan has better pacers than the men in blue. “Young (Jasprit) Bumrah has bowled nicely and (Ashish) Nehra is coming really good. Indian attack is balanced but we have a little bit of edge in the pace department as we have bowlers who can bowl over 145 kmph,” he said. Ashwin said both sides have equal chances of winning. “We start 50-50. They are upbeat after beating Bangladesh but if we can raise our standard and play to our potential, we can win the game as well,” he said.