Champions Trophy win over India a thing of past: Sarfraz Ahmed
Sarfraz played down the idea of pressure surrounding an India-Pakistan game. (AFP image)

Sarfraz Ahmed is keen on taking forward the momentum of Pakistan’s Champions Trophy win over India last year when the two teams face each other at the Asia Cup on Thursday. Speaking to reporters on the eve of the match, Sarfraz pointed out that the win at Lord’s was special, but shall have no bearing whatsoever on Thursday’s tie.

“That was past, that match was memorable, it would be remembered but it is a new match, new atmosphere, we would like to take the momentum of our last match into tomorrow’s game,” Sarfraz said.

“As for craze, when we are playing against India, everybody wants us to win. It inspires us, we get well wishes from fans. It’s the same for Indians. Any player who performs here gets to be a hero, it has been the case in the past.”

One advantage that Pakistan already have is the unavailability of the Indian captain Virat Kohli. But even without him, India have the firepower to fare well in the leadership of Rohit Sharma. Pacer Hasan Ali had earlier said that India will miss Kohli in the Asia Cup but Sarfraz believes in the contrary.

“As a team not to have your regular captain is a factor. There could be a difference in the frame of mind. But they have enough players who have done well for them, and the conditions are also the same for them. If conditions are adverse then a world class player makes a difference,” Sarfraz said.

Pakistan have been backed by many former cricketers to win the tournament, especially considering how the UAE has been home to Pakistan for almost a decade and how impressive a record they possess here. That said, the hot and humid conditions of the Emirates is something that is certain to take a toll on the players.

“It is difficult in this weather and it should have been even for all the teams. I don’t know what the ACC thought behind the schedule. I have not spoken to anyone about it,” Sarfraz said.

“People say it’s our home ground but conditions are even for all the teams, the weather is like that of the sub-continent. It’s a home ground for everyone. We are very clear about the team, I have discussed with the coach. We will field our best team.”

Sarfraz also played down the idea of pressure surrounding an India-Pakistan game, while adding that the match will no longer be dubbed as India’s batting against Pakistan’s bowling, an adage that has been associated with India vs Pakistan matches for years.

“Pressure is always there but we deal with it by telling ourselves that we should have the same intensity for every match. We take these matches normally but there is hype everywhere else, it does affect but we play it as just any other match,” he said

“India might have prepared for our bowling, we have planned for their bowling too. We are prepared and will execute our plans in match. I don’t think it’s India’s batting versus our bowling, we have good batting too. They have got back-to-back matches but their schedule has started later than others. They would be under pressure because their performance coming into this tournament was not good.”

Pakistan opened their Asia Cup campaign with an emphatic eight-wicket win over Hong Kong. However, despite that kind of a beginning, Sarfraz might be concerned by pacer bowler Mohammad Amir’s lack of wickets. After finishing with five wickets in the Champions Trophy, the fast bowler has played eight ODIs picking up just three wickets. The captain however is not much worried though.

“I am concerned but I don’t think wickets itself are a reflection of performance. Take for example, India pacer (Mohammad) Shami’s case in England. He bowled well but couldn’t get wickets. I have spoken to him (Aamir) and told him that he is our strike bowler and has to pick wickets too. Hope he does that tomorrow,” Sarfraz said.