The last time India took on Pakistan during a high-voltage cricket encounter, left-handed opener Fakhar Zaman stole the limelight with a thunderous knock of 114 to set up a comprehensive 180-run victory for Pakistan in the final of ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Also Read - MS Dhoni Was Aggressive And Safe, Virat Kohli Learning Quickly: Ex-BCCI Selector Gagan Khoda
Since then, the 28-year old opener has grown leaps and bounds as a batsman and has pushed his stature a notch further in international cricket. In July, Zaman became the first Pakistan batsman to smash a double century and registered his name in the history books. His knock of unbeaten 210 versus Zimbabwe in Bulawayo is the highest individual score by a Pakistan batsman in ODI cricket. Also Read - Indian Cricket Team Kit Sponsorship: Puma Buys Bid Document, Adidas Too Could Enter fray
Ahead of the much-anticipated clash against arch-rivals India in Asia Cup 2018, Zaman has claimed that the absence of the regular captain Virat Kohli won’t make a big difference in the outcome of the contest. The two neighbours will face off in a group stage ODI at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on September 19. Also Read - ICC ODI Rankings: Kohli, Rohit Maintain Hold Over Top-Two Batting Slots as England And Ireland Players Move Upwards
The Pakistan opener also termed India a world-class side, “India are a world-class side, and I don’t think it’ll make that big a difference for them to not have (Virat) Kohli in the side. Kohli is an exceptional player, but India is a good side anyway. So we hope you’ll get to see a good contest,” Zaman said in a statement released by the ICC on Tuesday.
Both India and Pakistan have played a lot of cricket since their last meeting in England during Champions Trophy, though Zaman says the “added pressure” of an India-Pakistan cricket match is unimaginable.
“Normally, any match you play at the international level, there’s a lot of pressure. And when it comes to an India-Pakistan game, the pressure is more intense. I’ve experienced that once,” Zaman said, referring to the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final.
“It would be wrong to say that there won’t be any pressure. It’ll be on their bowlers as well. It’ll be a matter of (which side) keeps their nerves calm, and who seizes the moment. Everything depends on the match situation, and hopefully, we’ll be the better side on the day,” he added.
The Indian team are currently on a tour to England where they are playin a lengthy five-match Test series. After losing the fourth Test in Southampton by 60 runs, the visitors have already lost the rubber 1-3 and will play for their pride in the fifth and final Test against England on September 7.
In absence of Kohli, Rohit Sharma will lead the 16-member India squad in the upcoming Asia Cup 2018, starting from September 15.
India Squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, K Khaleel Ahmed.
Pakistan Squad: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Sarfraz Ahmed (C), Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Asif Ali, Mohammad Amir.