Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi and Faheem Ashraf go through their paces during a training session in Dubai. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmad has told his players not to succumb to the pressures that surround an India-Pakistan match.

Speaking ahead of the Asia Cup clash on Wednesday in Dubai, Sarfraz said: “I have told my players to not take that pressure.

“The pressure is always there in an India-Pakistan match.

“I have told them to take every game as an India-Pakistan match and play to their best to win this event.”

He said they would try to take the game as a normal one

“The media hype and the social media hype does affect, but I have told my players to play the match in the same manner like they play other matches.”

Sarfraz does not believe his team have an advantage of playing in the UAE, where the Pakistan have been playing “home” international matches.

“People say that this is Pakistan’s home ground,” he said. “You can say that it’s our home ground but the conditions are the same like we have in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. I think the weather is the same, the pitches are the same, so it’s not the home ground for any one team, it’s even for all the teams.”

Commenting on the psychological advantage gained from winning the Champion Trophy, Sarfraz added: “It was Champions Trophy final in England, so the time has gone, it’s past now. Obviously it was a great win and we have good memories that will be with us all the time. This is a new game and a new event. The atmosphere has changed so we have a winning momentum and we will want to carry that into the game.”

Sarfraz also had a request to the Pakistan fans.

“My message is to pray for the team,” he said. “We are in a positive frame of mind. Everyone wants us to win against India. The fans say that, whatever happens, you have to win [against India] but as a captain I have to win against every team.”

He said it would be the same for India, whose fans would want their team to win.

“It’s an inspiration we get from those wishes. Any player who performs in the India-Pakistan match becomes a hero.”

Sarfraz is not bothered about the absence of India captain Virat Kohli, who is being rested after the series in England.

“As far as India is concerned Kohli has been their captain for the last two years or so,” Sarfraz said. “As a team it’s different for them. I don’t know what Rohit Sharma is thinking as a captain. Kohli is a world class player but they have got other very good players and have done well in the past.”

Sarfraz was also not thinking about India entering the contest after the series loss in England. “As a team they will definitely have that pressure but if they take this as a new game and new event then they will be able to cope,” he said.

“As matches are happening then the pitch is getting slower here. The par score elsewhere these days is 350 plus but here the pitch is slow so if any team has a good bowling attack then they can fight with 280-290 runs as well.

“A lot of people say that it’s a contest between Pakistan’s bowling and India’s batting but we have done well in our batting. So both teams do their planning and play.”