Pakistan on Saturday named a 12-member squad for their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup opener against India.
The team for Sunday, captained by Babar Azam, includes veteran Shoaib Malik who was a late addition to the squad, as well as Mohammed Hafeez.
Pakistan will depend on the experience of Hafeez and Malik while Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman hold the key at the top of the order. The bowling, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali, looks potent to trouble any opposition in the Super 12 stage.
Azam’s Pakistan will look to end their losing streak against India at the World Cup when the two rivals begin their title race in a Sunday blockbuster. India have beaten Pakistan in all of their 12 matches at the men’s T20 and 50-over World Cups: Pakistan have lost all seven World Cup (50 over) clashes against India as well as five games in the Twenty20 World Cup.
Pakistan come into the Super 12s contest with 10 wins in a row in the United Arab Emirates while most of the Indian players have acclimatised to the conditions in the recently-concluded second half of the Indian Premier League.
Azam vowed his team will not think about Pakistan’s poor record against arch-rivals India when they meet in a high-octane clash at the Dubai International Stadium.
Exuding confidence, Azam stressed that the past is irrelevant to his players.
“To be honest, what has passed is beyond us,” Babar told a virtual media conference on Saturday, as both nations buzzed in anticipation of a thrilling match.
“We want to use our ability and confidence on the day of the match so that we can get a better result.
“Records are meant to be broken.”
The tickets for the match were sold out within hours of going on sale after the United Arab Emirate government allowed a 70% crowd for the Twenty20 World Cup matches in a relaxation of the Covid-19 restrictions.
The South Asian rivals have only played in multi-national events like the World Cups and the Champions Trophy as strained relations have stalled bilateral cricket since 2007.
Pakistan did tour India in 2012 for five limited over matches but ties were not fully resumed as the two nations continued to be at loggerheads over multiple issues, with the disputed region of Kashmir and terrorism heading the list.
Azam admitted it will be a match full of intensity.
“The matches between Pakistan and India are always full of intensity so we need to perform well in all three departments of the game,” the captain said.
Babar Azam announced the XII for the match with hard-hitters Haider Ali and Asif Ali competing to make the final eleven.
“The boys are excited to play the World Cup and we have a crucial match on Sunday,” said Babar, who will be leading Pakistan for the first time in a senior World Cup match.
“A winning impact is necessary and then we will go match by match.”
Babar said Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan – who led the country to victory in the 1992 World Cup – had shared his experiences with the team.
“The Prime Minister met us before our departure and shared his experiences of the 1992 win and told us to play aggressive and fearless cricket against India.”
Earlier this week, India won both their warm-up matches, beating England and Australia while Pakistan beat the West Indies but lost to South Africa.