We joked that it is a best of three series between Pakistan and India, says Rizwan

If things go accordingly, there is the prospect of the two teams going up against each other in the Asia Cup final on September 11

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan plays a shot against Hong Kong in the Asia Cup match on Friday. (Photo by M. Sajjad)
Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan plays a shot against Hong Kong in the Asia Cup match on Friday. (Photo by M. Sajjad)

James Jose

Published: Sat 3 Sep 2022, 2:12 PM

Last updated: Sat 3 Sep 2022, 2:33 PM

As Pakistan cruised into the Super Four to set up another face-off against arch-rivals India in Dubai on Sunday, Pakistan opener and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan felt that it is always a high pressure match-up between both the countries and revealed that the players had joked among themselves that this could be a best of three series.

Pakistan and India had met in their group opener in the DP World Asia Cup last Sunday and are set to square off again at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on the morrow.

And if things go accordingly, there is the prospect of the two teams going up against each other in the final on September 11.

And while the stakes are always high when the two sides clash, Rizwan said that the best way to ward off the pressure was to keep things simple.

“A match against India is always a pressure match,” said Rizwan.

“Even people outside Asia wait for a match between India and Pakistan to witness it. Obviously, a match against India always seems like a final because the people of Pakistan and India keenly follow and watch this game.

"But, the more you keep the game normal, it is better. Me and the players try to keep it as normal as possible and that is probably the best thing to do because either you play India or Hong Kong, at the end of the day, you have to play it with bat and ball.

“If you start thinking you are playing against India and their super stars, it becomes difficult. It is as simple as a Hong Kong player wanting to get you out, a club player wanting to get you out or an Indian player wants to get you out.

"So, cricket is like that and if you try and keep the cricket simple, it is easier for you. Obviously, it is a big game and the confidence is high among the boys. And we will put in the hard work and the result is in the hands of God,” he explained.

Rizwan said that the players had joked of it being a three-match series.

“We have said amongst ourselves as a joke that this is a best of three series because we talk about the next game and hopefully we can meet in the final. But obviously, we have to strengthen our cricket and put in the hard work," he said.

"And everyone can now see, and even before, that the players are giving their absolute best on the field and there is good camaraderie. That is expected of us by the country but the result is in the hands of God,” Rizwan said.

Meanwhile, there has been a bit of a murmur about captain Babar Azam’s form with the opener unable to get big scores in both the games against India and Hong Kong. Azam, who is No.1 in the ICC T20 and ODI rankings and is placed third in the Test rankings, scored 10 and 9 against India and Hong Kong respectively.

“Babar is a superstar and he is world No.1. He knows how to go about it and it has been just two innings and we sometimes keep saying that he doesn’t get an evil eye. He has scored a lot of runs for us in the past and this has been just two games,” felt Rizwan.

Rizwan also felt that no one can fill the big boots of pace ace Shaheen Shah Afridi but felt that it is a great opportunity for the likes of young Naseem Shah and Shahnawaz Dahani to make a huge mark.

“I've talked to the bowlers before. I will be very honest here, no bowler from this group can replace Shaheen. This is my honest answer,” he said.

“The way he (Shaheen) has performed in the past one or two years, no bowler can come into the side and fill his shoes. But, we can get another Shaheen and this is an opportunity for our other fast bowlers. The way Naseem and Dahani have performed.. and Haris is already a part of the side, so we are hopeful," added Rizwan.

Shaheen had suffered a right knee ligament injury during the first Test against Sri Lanka in July that ruled him out of the Asia Cup. The 22-year-old is currently undergoing treatment in London.

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