The fight for regional supremacy in the Asia Cup is always built around the marquee clash between traditional rivals India and Pakistan, and the 12th edition of the tournament is not going to be any different with fans around the world circling March 2 on their calendars.
India and Pakistan have played just five ODIs in the last three years, since that famous 2011 World Cup semi-final in Mohali. And it’s the scarcity of their match-ups that keeps the fans gunning for more. But Virat Kohli feels it’s just hype.
Kohli will be replacing MS Dhoni as skipper for the tournament after Dhoni was withdrawn from the squad in the eleventh hour due to a side strain. On landing in Bangladesh, Kohli was asked how his young team is shaping up for the big match, but the stand-in skipper said they are not here to play just one match.
“Obviously we are here to win the tournament. We haven’t just come here to play one game and go back home; that’s not our aim,” Kohli said. “A game against Pakistan is always a hyped game for us, obviously a big pressure match. We take every game the same way.”
However, leader of the opposition camp – Misbah-ul-Haq – chose to call the encounter a ‘challenge’ than hype. “It’s always a big challenge playing against India because there is so much interest in the game,” Misbah said.
Pakistan too are fighting injuries with pacer Mohammad Irfan ruled out due to injury and Afridi under a cloud after getting hit on his jaw during a practice game.
But an India-Pakistan encounter is not only about big games, rather the magnitude of an Indo-Pak match creates big players. And both the sides are brimming with youngsters who are itching to have a go.