India and Pakistan gear up for a highly charged World Twenty20 match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, described as border rivalry by Ravichandran Ashwin while the rival coach Waqar Younis hopes his team takes advantage of the added pressure on the hosts.
Millions of fans across the border keep a bated breath as high on confidence Pakistan will start as favourites against India who are under pressure after being upset in their opening match.
Aswin and Waqar upped the ante on Friday to add to the already high voltage of the match.
“This rivalry is huge,” said the off-spinner. “It’s very hard to put a finger and say how huge
it is. It’s probably bigger than the Ashes is. As far as the Indians go and the Pakistanis go, I don’t think they watch this as a game of cricket. It’s more of a border rivalry.
“They want to get one up on each other. So there is much more to this game rather than the game itself taking centre-stage. As far as people are concerned, they put their emotions into it. For the players it’s about trying to keep the emotions aside and playing the game the best we can.”
With a capacity 66,000 crowd backing the hosts Pakistan will bank on their kick start, beating a much improved Bangladesh side by 55 runs — also at Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
“In all the previous games, the pressure was on Pakistani team. This is the first time that the pressure is more on India – not arising from victory or defeat at the hands of Pakistan but because this is a very big tournament. I have been a cricketer all my years and it is impossible that India won’t be feeling the pressure. If they lose they can go out of the tournament and I am sure they will be feeling the pressure and we are going to take advantage of that,” said Waqar, firing the first salvo.
Waqar said his team was high on confidence after scoring 201-5 against Bangladesh.
“Scoring 200 means that the batting has clicked and we will again hope to bat well,” said Waqar, highlighting Shahid Afridi’s 19-ball 49 as an inspiration.
“That was an innings changing knock and then Afridi bowled well which is a big plus for us.”
Waqar said that the history – India having won all World Cup (50 overs) and World Twenty30 matches in the past — can change.
“History can change, too,” said Waqar, part of the team in 1996, 1999 and 2003 defeats. “We are confident, a little more this time because they can go out of the tournament also. Yes, there is no doubt that our history hasn’t been so good but history can always be changed.”
Aswin said Indian players have the ability to handle pressure.
“I don’t think we really see a lot of pressure in this game. We are used to playing a lot of India games. Every game that India plays is a pressure game as you can see (with) the amount of people (present) here (at the press conference).
“It’s just about 70 percent of media people that are here for every game. We are pretty much used to it. It’s not about the pressure, I think we should be able to handle it. A game like this… more than who we are playing against, it’s the T20 World Cup and we have almost put ourselves in a position where we have to win every game from here. I think that’s more important and pertinent.”
The Eden gardens is lucky venue for Pakistan who have won all the four one-day matches they played here and unlike the pitch in Nagpur which turned dramatically, Eden Gardens is seen as offering more bounce and will be batting friendly.
Pakistan will be unchanged from the side which won the first game while India will ponder one change.