India captain Rohit Sharma says his team’s experienced batsmen are unfazed by the threat of Pakistan’s fast bowlers, ahead of the arch-rivals’ blockbuster Asia Cup clash.
Pakistan boast of one of the world’s best pace attacks including Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf.
All three made a good start in the opener of the 50-over tournament, a prelude to the upcoming ODI World Cup in India.
Rohit’s side will play their opening match of the tournament against Pakistan on Saturday in Pallekele, the first of three potential clashes between the bitter rivals in Sri Lanka.
The captain praised the Pakistan quicks but said his team was ready for the challenge.
“We don’t have Shaheen, Naseem and Rauf in the nets,” Rohit joked. “So we practise with the bowlers that we have. But these three are quality bowlers and have performed well in the past few years.
“Pakistan have always had quality bowlers,” he added. “Their strength, where they bowl and not bowl, we have seen all that. We will use our years of experience to play against them, as simple as that.”
India have a strong batting unit that includes Rohit, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya.
Pace ace Jasprit Bumrah has recently returned to the Indian attack after recovering from an injury and joins fellow quicks Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj.
Rohit played down the comparison between the quicks of the two teams.
“All those six bowlers [from India and Pakistan] are great bowlers. They have proved in world cricket how good they are,” he said.
Pakistan, who recently rose to the top of ODI rankings, crushed Asia Cup debutants Nepal in the opener in Multan.
Rohit acknowledged the opposition’s quality and relished the challenge.
“It [Pakistan] is a good team, they have performed well since the past few years including the T20 World Cup or the 50-over format,” said Rohit.
“It will be a good challenge for us to play against such a team and perform. We have prepared well and will execute what we have worked on.”
The two nuclear-armed neighbours play cricket against each other only in international tournaments, due to long-standing political tensions.
India have dominated the limited-overs rivalry in the past decade but Babar Azam’s Pakistan has got a few T20I victories in the past two years.
“We are not focussing on the past, but looking to do good in the upcoming matches,” said Azam, who remains fresh from his match-winning 151 against Nepal.
“We will try to give our best and carry forward the momentum [from the first win]. You know India-Pakistan is always a game of intensity and fans wait for it, so we are also excited for it.”
Rain threat looms large over the hotly anticipated clash, with weather agencies predicting moderate-to-heavy showers in Kandy at the weekend.
© Agence France-Presse