Saturday
24 February | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Sri Lanka’s hill city ready to host one of world’s great sporting encounters

Powerful team of Pakistani players will take field against Indian cricketers at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in mountainous Kandy city

Powerful team of Pakistani players will take field against Indian cricketers at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Saturday in Kandy, as Sri Lanka’s hill city is ready to host one of world’s great sporting encounters of the sixteenth edition of the Super-11 Asia Cup 2023.

The ‘Men in Green’ are in full form after defeating Nepal with a big margin in their Asia Cup opener and becoming the number-one One-Day International (ODI) team by whitewashing Afghanistan 3-0 in an ODI series just before the thrilling Asian event.

Babar Azam says Pakistani players have some kind of home advantage in Sri Lanka

In a press talk, Pakistan captain Babar Azam said that enough of his players had spent time in Sri Lanka of late meant they had some kind of home advantage. “We’ve been here for the last two months. We have decent knowledge of the conditions here. I’ve found Sri Lankan conditions pretty similar to Pakistani and Indian conditions. You take time when you come in to bat, and bowl in the right channels,” he said.

India’s captain Rohit Sharma said that they [Pakistani team] were a very good team, last few years they’ve done really well, whether it’s at the T20 World Cup or in the 50-over format. “No team becomes number one just like that. Pakistan has worked hard a lot to get there, looks like a unit. We’ll have a good challenge to play against them,” he said.

“I don’t think we feel the pressure of this game against India. We’re focusing on what we can control. We want to continue our momentum. The boys are excited,” Babar Azam told the media. “You know Pakistan-India is a high-intensity match, and the fans wait for it for a while. We’re similarly excited. We’re going to stick with the same top order; but if we don’t get a good start, I am encouraged by the middle order stepping up. They’re chipping in. We had been lagging in the middle order for a while, but they’re responding well now,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s hill city ready to host one of world’s great sporting encounters
Babar Azam sees a high-intensity match between Pakistan and India

The same players who featured in Pakistan’s 238-run victory against Nepal will take the field against India. Besides captain Babar Azam, and vice-captain Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, wicket keeper Mohammad Rizwan, Salman Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Naseem Shah included in the team.

Rohit Sharma says no team becomes No 1 just like Pakistan’s

In a press talk, ace pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi said that Pakistan will win the Asia Cup 2023 because the team have prepared for the event very well. He emphasized that the players got enough chances to play in Sri Lanka which will play a key role in the later stages of the tournament. “Our players support each other, as we spend more time with the team members than our actual families. We always do our best to make Pakistan proud and happy,” he said.

During the practice session, India’s middle-order batter Virat Kohli met Haris Rauf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan, and Shaheen Shah Afridi as the arch-rivals are all set to take on each other at the Pallekele Stadium. The Pakistani and Indian cricketers have shared some of the most beautiful moments of the last two years, according to TV reports.

In an interview, Virat Kohli said that it was always an exciting challenge to play against Pakistan because they’ve a lot of talent in their team, and they were a quality team overall. “I feel bowling is their strength, and they’ve got some really impactful bowlers who can change the pace of the game anytime, based on their skill set. So, you have to be at your absolute best to face them,” he said.

India’s former captain Sourav Ganguly said that India’s bowling attack will test Pakistan skipper Babar Azam. “He is a good player; and there is no doubt about it. But India will have plans for him, as we have a good bowling attack,” he said, adding that Jasprit Bumrah, Muhammad Shami, and Muhammad Siraj will attack as a serious fast bowlers. He lauded Pakistan’s bowling attack, which includes Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah.

Shaheen Shah Afridi says ‘Men in Green’ ready to face Indian players

Legendary cricketer Wasim Akram said that Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka possessed a potential to clinch triumph on any given day. In an interview, India’s former head coach Ravi Shastri said that it would be temperament – and not numbers – that would determine the winner in a tough game between Pakistan and India.

India have the upper hand against Pakistan with seven wins in 13 matches with their most recent win in the 2018 Asia Cup. The ‘Men in Green’ have won five with one match ending in no result. Pakistan have also lost four of the last five matches against India in the Asia Cup, with their last win coming in 2014. Hosted by the Pakistan Cricket Board, four matches of the Asia Cup tournament to be played in Pakistan and the remaining nine matches to be played in Sri Lanka.

INTERESTING FACTS

Babar Azam is just six runs away from breaking Virat Kohli’s record of the fastest captain to 2,000 ODI runs. He could also become the fastest to 20 ODI centuries during the match against India. Ahead of the Pakistan clash, Rohit Sharma is 163 runs away from the 10,000-run mark in ODI cricket. Virat Kohli – the right-hander – is just 102 runs away from scoring 13,000 runs in ODIs, becoming only the second Indian to achieve the landmark.

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