Kohli plays down match pressure ahead of India vs Pakistan clash

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— AFP/File
— AFP/File

KARACHI: It will be like just another game of professional cricket, Indian captain Virat Kohli said as he tried to play down the pressure ahead of the India vs Pakistan ICC T20 World Cup game. 

In a video preview shared by the ICC, the Indian captain also praised the Pakistani bowling attack.

“Pakistan always has a great bowling attack. So it’s always been a good challenge,” said Kohli.

“I’ve played against Pakistan in three World Cups now. I’ve maintained this forever, apart from the atmosphere in the stadium, there is nothing different for us because it has more to do with how people perceive that game and how people look at that game, for us we have to be professional, for us it’s a game of cricket,” the Indian captain said.

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The flamboyant top-order batsman said the basics of the game remain the same regardless of which team one is playing and the moment you shift the focus to things that don’t matter, you don’t have a chance to perform.

“Those external factors are not going win the game, it’s the intelligence, the application, the understanding of the situation, and how to find that belief within you to find a way to make your team win is all that matters on the field of play. And personally, I’ve never looked at this game differently,” said the Indian captain.

However, Indian head coach Ravi Shastri had a different view from Kohli.

“There’s absolutely no doubt about that. No game comes close. So, it is a big game, and like in the past, this game will be treated in the same fashion, both teams will give it their all, we will certainly give it our all and you know may the best team win,” Shastri said.

Experienced cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin said that Pakistan is an exciting team but rued that both the teams have not got enough opportunities to play against each other.

“Pakistan’s a very exciting team. It’s not just now because the competition is happening that I’m saying it. They are a team that comes with a certain character bite,” he said.

“It has been one of the most celebrated contests. If I may say, as a child, I grew up watching India and Pakistan go one up against each other all my life. The challenge of playing Pakistan and India nowadays is the fact that you come up against an unknown opponent in one of the most celebrated rivalries, one of the most looked after the game, people are just waiting for the game to begin. But both the teams don’t know enough about each other, we haven’t experienced a contest between each other so very often,” Ashwin said.

Hardik Pandya agreed that it is a known rivalry and that’s understandable, but for him, it is just another game like he would play against any other side.

“At the end of the day it’s a sport and you don’t put things or anything in between sports. So, for me, it’s another match which I want to win as I would like to win against Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka or any good team but I know this means more for a lot of people back home, so for them yeah, we’re going to give our best and make sure we get what they like,” Pandya said.

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