Asia Cup: We are excited to play against Pakistan, says KL Rahul

India will play their opening match against Pakistan on Sunday


James Jose

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Kl Rahul (left) during a training session in Dubai. (Twitter)
Kl Rahul (left) during a training session in Dubai. (Twitter)

Published: Fri 26 Aug 2022, 9:55 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Aug 2022, 10:43 PM

No matter how much one tries to deflect it and try to look at it as just another game, there is no escaping the fact that an India-Pakistan cricket rivalry is amongst the biggest rivalries in the sporting sphere.

And Indian vice-captain KL Rahul said as much in the run-up to their first clash of the Asia Cup in Dubai on Sunday night.

“We are all very excited as players,” Rahul said at the ICC Cricket Academy on Friday prior to the team’s training session at Oval 2.

“And as an Indian team as well, we always look forward to this India-Pakistan clash because we don’t play each other anywhere else but these big tournaments. So, it is always an exciting time and it is a great challenge for all of us to compete against a good team like Pakistan.

"As we have seen, there is a huge history. There has always been rivalry and the games have always been high intensity. So, as players, we have always dreamt of playing in an India-Pakistan match and it is a great opportunity for all of us to challenge ourselves,” he added.

It will be the first clash between the two sides following India’s defeat to Pakistan in the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE last year. But Rahul poured water on any notion that revenge would be on their mind.

“Yes obviously losing any game in a World Cup always hurts you a little bit. And it was the first game of the World Cup and we were all very excited. Obviously, every team enters a World Cup or enters a big tournament wanting to win and wanting to start well. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for us and were outplayed by a really strong Pakistan team,” he said.

“So, we get an opportunity once again to play against them and it is a contest that we are all looking forward to. And we are all eager to go out there and start well. The game starts from zero. There might be history of how many times we have played, how many times each team has won but it doesn't count for anything. It will always start from zero, so both teams are going to be excited and eager to play against each other. It is our first game of the tournament again so either team will want to start really well and it would be the same for us as an Indian team,” added Rahul.

Rahul is slowly making a return following almost a three-month lay-off due to Covid as well as sports hernia surgery.

And the tour to Zimbabwe has helped him find his groove.

“For me personally, going to Zimbabwe and playing those three matches was very good for my recovery and just to see how my body was coping, how well have I recovered. Obviously, you can spend time with the physio or spend time in the academy but the game feel is different, the pressure of a game is different," he said.

"You obviously will have to stay in the park for three and a half hours, especially in a One-Day International and then come out and bat. It gives you a lot of confidence and being out in the middle is always the best way to assess how good a form or nick you are in, how your body is feeling.

“What happened was really good so that I can enter this tournament feeling really good, a little bit more confident about my body and I can focus on my skill. And this tournament gives me the opportunity to challenge myself. And since we are playing against some good teams, the pressure too would be high and I’m looking forward to it,” explained Rahul.

The 30-year-old also backed star batsman Virat Kohli to come good soon enough.

“We don’t really give much importance to comments. Each person has his own opinion and it doesn’t really affect the player. Especially, a world class player like Virat Kohli, will not be affected by what people are saying on the outside. He’s obviously had a little bit of a break and has been working on his game. I was also at home for two months as I was injured and I was watching on the television and I didn’t feel like he looked out of form or out of touch. He was batting really well,” Rahul said.

“Obviously, the standards he has set for himself, he has been unable to reach that but I’m sure he’s hungry as well to come out and win matches for the country and that is what he has always done throughout his career. His mindset has always been to win matches for his country. Even when he was the captain or as a regular player, his mindset has always been the same. And when a player is in that mindset, I’m sure good things will happen. And we all eagerly want Virat to get back to the Virat Kohli form. We are not worried as an Indian team and I’m sure he’s not worried too,” the Bangalorean added.

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