Wednesday, December 6, 2023

No pressure for Pak-India big game, have already played at crowded stadiums: Babar Azam

No pressure for Pak-India big game, have already played at crowded stadiums: Babar Azam
October 13, 2023 Web Desk

AHMEDABAD, India (AFP) - Defiant Pakistan captain Babar Azam declared Friday that 'records are meant to be broken' as his team looks to break free of India's World Cup stranglehold when the bitter rivals clash on Saturday.

India boast a 7-0 record over their neighbours in World Cups despite Pakistan having a healthy 73-56 overall advantage since their first one-day international clash back in 1978.

"I don't focus on the past," said Azam on Friday. "Let's focus on the thing to come as we know records are meant to be broken."

"We will try to play well and it all depends on how you play on the day, just like we did in the first two matches," added the skipper whose side have two wins from two at the World Cup after seeing off the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.

Azam said he has told his players that Saturday's clash inside the 132,000-capacity Ahmedabad stadium is a "golden opportunity" to write their names into World Cup folklore.

"The India-Pakistan match is a big game, high intensity. Every such game is challenging," added Azam, a survivor of the 2019 World Cup clash in Manchester which India won by 89 runs.

"I have told (the players) it's the best opportunity to perform. It is a big stadium that can accommodate many fans, it's a golden opportunity for us to perform in front of these fans."

Under Azam, Pakistan broke a Twenty20 World Cup sequence of five defeats (from 2007 to 2016) against India with a 10-wicket rout at Dubai in 2021. "Didn't we break the Twenty20 record? I am not worried about the past."

Azam also shrugged off the prospect of having virtually all of the 132,000 spectators screaming support for India with no Pakistan fans having been successful in securing visas to cross the border.

"It's not pressure," said Azam. "We have played at big stadiums like at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). "But, yes, all the support, I think, in Ahmedabad will be for India. It would have been better had Pakistan fans been allowed. "But I expect fans will also support us as well."

Pakistan fans from around the world have faced visa glitches due to strained relations between the two countries, who have not played a bilateral cricket series since 2007.

Pakistan did tour India for limited-over matches in 2012 but that did not revive full tours which stalled in the wake of the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Azam admitted conditions in Ahmedabad are different from those at Hyderabad where Pakistan played two warm-up matches and their first two World Cup games. "Yes, the conditions here are different," said Azam whose team beat the Netherlands by 81 runs and Sri Lanka by six wickets. "You are better off at a venue where you have spent a few days but we will adapt."

Azam admitted Pakistan will look for wickets from pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi who has yet to fully fire at the tournament. Shaheen has just two wickets from two matches at a cost of 113 runs. "He is our main bowler. Shaheen himself has a belief that he is a big match bowler," said the captain.