It has been two years since the cricket teams of India and Pakistan had the experience of playing against each other.
Soured relations between the two countries had its shadows on cricketing ties, too. Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi believes sports should not been given a political hue and that their government has always made the first step in ensuring that.
The last time the two arch-rivals had met was at the same venue, the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium at Mirpur, during the World T20 in 2014. Before that, Pakistan had visited India in 2012 where the two-match T20 series was drawn 1-1.
“Sports can always develop good relationship between countries. It is not a time for people to fight and run, rather they want entertainment now. I think the Pakistani people want to see the Indians in Pakistan while the Indians would also like to see the Pakistanis playing over there. We should not give sports a political colour. We should consider the public demands and we always try to give this message. Our government always took the first step in this regard,” Afridi told reporters before training at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, on Friday.
India hold the edge in head-to-head encounters but Afridi is not interested in dwelling on the past. He hoped their bowlers will deliver the goods on Saturday. “I am not thinking what we have done against India in the past because I don’t live in the past,” he said.
“Indian batsmen usually play the spinners very well and have in-form players in their squad as they have come here after playing some good cricket. I think apart from me there is Mohammad Nawaz who performed really well in the domestic cricket as well as in the PSL. The fast bowlers are also in good shape whether it is Mohammad Aamir, Wahab (Riaz) or (Mohammad) Irfan. I know their batting is strong but we also have a formidable bowling attack.”
Asked whether it would be a battle between Pakistani bowlers and Indian batsmen, Afridi said: “It has always been the case. They will try to score heavily and we also have a strength in our batting because they are looking good coming from the PSL. We just hope that we don’t repeat our mistakes and stick to our basics.”