India vice-captain KL Rahul
India vice-captain KL Rahul addresses a press conference ahead of the DP World Asia Cup in Dubai on August 26, 2022. Image Credit: ANI

India-Pakistan cricket matches are special. It evokes so much interest and passion that players come under immense pressure. The game on Sunday (August 28) is undoubtedly the most keenly-awaited encounter in the DP World Asia Cup 2022. It is the first meeting since Pakistan defeated India in the T20 World Cup — their first win in a major International Cricket Conference tournament.

KL Rahul, the Indian vice-captain, said his team is excited at the prospect of facing Pakistan. “We always look forward to the India-Pakistan clash because we don’t play each other anywhere else, [except] in these big tournaments. It’s a great challenge to compete against a good team like Pakistan.”

The weight of history and rivalry revs up the intensity of India-Pakistan clashes. That seeps into the minds of the players. “As players, we dreamt of playing in these games. So it’s a great opportunity for all of us, Rahul added.

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Pakistan would be buoyed by the victory in the T20 World Cup, but will it hurt India’s chances? Rahul didn’t seem to think so. “We were outplayed by a strong Pakistan in the World Cup. But this game [on Sunday] starts from zero. The history of victories doesn’t matter. Each game starts from zero. Both teams will be excited and eager to play each other. It’s the first game for both teams, and each will want to win and start really well,” he said.

Irrespective of the result, both teams are fancied to make the Super 4 since qualifiers Hong Kong are unlikely to trouble them. So the Super 4 clash between the arch-rivals would be decisive for their fortunes in the tournament.

Rahul was happy with his outing in Zimbabwe, although he didn’t too many runs since he was coming off an injury. “The three games allowed me to assess how well I recovered from the injury. The time spent with the physio and at the academy [National Cricket Academy] will be different from the time spent in the middle. It’s the best way to assess your form and fitness. It gives you confidence,” Rahul added.