Chennai: Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott said Sunday that his team are looking forward to renewing a “passionate” rivalry with Pakistan which has often reflected the stormy political relationship between the two neighbours.
Both sides are in desperate need of a win at the World Cup.
Pakistan have lost their last two games after a pair of opening wins. Afghanistan pulled off a shock victory over defending champions England but have have also slumped to three defeats.
Adding spice to Monday’s crucial clash is the current cross-border friction between the two nations.
There have been intense cricket clashes as well.
At the 2019 World Cup match in Leeds, which Pakistan won by three wickets, riots between the two sets of fans erupted outside the stadium.
Came to blows
Afghanistan fast bowler Fareed Malik and Pakistan batsman Asif Ali almost came to blows in a Twenty20 game at Sharjah last year.
“I think for them (Afghanistan players) it’s a rivalry that excites them,” said Trott on Sunday.
“I think it’s a rivalry that sometimes in the past has been very passionate.
“We’ve had very close games as well. Hopefully tomorrow isn’t very exciting and we win by a lot. It’s just the nature of the rivalry, I should say.”
He added: “Both teams, I think, respect each other, but are very desperate to win.”
Trott said he wasn’t aware that Pakistan had unsuccessfully demanded the International Cricket Council switch Sunday’s game to another venue.
Reports claimed that Pakistan were keen to dent the threat posed by Afghanistan’s world-class spin attack.
“I didn’t know about them wanting to (change the venue), but I think Pakistan have got good spinners themselves and the thing with spinners, there are only two or three of them playing a game,” said Trott.
Afghanistan’s spin trio of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi will pose a threat for Pakistan as they did against England, sharing eight wickets in an upset 69-run win.
That game, however, took place in New Delhi.
“It’s everybody’s job, not just the spinners, to win games. There’s batsmen who’ve got to put runs on the board or batsmen who’ve got to chase down a total,” added former England batsman Trott.
“Chennai is normally a good wicket. So, with regards to the mindset, it’s important, as I said, the mindset we have there is that it’s a team game. It’s not just a spinners game.”
Afghanistan have lost all seven ODIs against Pakistan but can take a degree of satisfaction from knowing that they clinched three of the teams’ last four Twenty20 meetings.
“We always look to put the opposition under pressure straight away so we’ll be looking to do that tomorrow obviously, and I don’t think there’s any thoughts with regards to previous matches,” said Trott.