As fans across the world gear up for what is set to be a high-octane Twenty20 World Cup opener between Pakistan and India, the latter’s captain Virat Kohli played down the hype surrounding the match, terming it “just another game” for his team.
Asian giants India, who were the original hosts of the 2021 event before the pandemic meant a shift to the Gulf, will begin their campaign against arch-rivals and fellow former champions Pakistan on October 24 with Kohli looking to go out with a bang before stepping down as captain of the T20 side.
“I honestly never felt so,” the Indian skipper said when asked whether playing against Pakistan felt different than other teams.
“I have always approached this game as just another game of cricket. I know there is a lot of hype created around this game more so with ticket sales and the demands for tickets,” he added.
In a lighter vein, Kohli said he had refused friends asking for free tickets to the high-profile match.
“Right now the value of those tickets is ridiculously high. So that’s all I know, friends asking me for tickets left, right and centre, I refused,” he said.
Kohli acknowledged that the fanfare and emotions attached to the rivalry set it apart from other encounters, saying: “Yes, the environment, you can say, is different. From the fans’ point of view it is definitely louder. From the players’ point of view, we stay as professional as we can.”
Pakistan have won their last 10 Twenty20 internationals in the UAE and captain Babar Azam claimed on Saturday that run will give his men the edge over India next weekend.
“Definitely we have played a lot of cricket in the UAE,” Babar said when asked about his team’s dismal 0-5 record against India in T20 World Cup clashes.
“These conditions suit us and we know how to play here.”