Memories of the defeat in the 2017 Champions Trophy final are still fresh in the minds of Indian and Pakistan fans and tensions will be high once again when the neighbours clash in the UAE.
However, there are four other teams in the mix with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan expected to be as competitive as the favourites. And captain and opener Rohit wants to keep things in perspective.
“It is always exciting to play Pakistan. They have been a great nation, they have played some real great cricket of late. But there are other teams as well here that are eyeing the title. By no means am I saying the focus should be on one game. Focus should be on tournament as all teams are eyeing the title,” Rohit said in Dubai during the trophy launch of the Asia Cup.
It has been 12 years since India played international cricket in the UAE. They last played two ODIs in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan in 2006. Rohit said since their international team hasn’t played in the UAE (part of IPL 2014 was held in UAE) it’s important for the group to get used to conditions quickly.
“I was not aware that it has been 12 years since India have played here. Only seven eight of us are here right now. Once everyone gets together we know exactly we need to do as a group. Of late we have played some great cricket in limited overs. We have won quite a few series outside India. Hopefully this gives us another opportunity.
“(Weather) not so pleasant for sure. Which is why we wanted to come earlier and get used to the conditions. We haven’t played in this part of the world for 12 years. Those guys who arrived from England had a hectic schedule. It was for their own good to go back home, spend time with family and come here. It is important to get used to conditions. But it’s going to be same for all teams.”
MISSION WORLD CUP 2019
The focus of most teams is firmly on the 2019 World Cup in England and it’s the same for the five main teams involved in the Asia Cup.
However, Rohit said since the showpiece event is a long way away, it’s better to focus on the Asia Cup and not think too far ahead. “Every team wants to go World Cup knowing their combination. Having said that, I feel it is important to focus on job at hand and not look to far ahead,” he said.
“Every team here will be eyeing the perfect combination going to the World Cup. But I will not understand what Angie (Angelo Mathews) here will be thinking about, what he wants to. Or Sarfraz. Or Mashrafe or other captains. I don’t know their strengths or their weaknesses. As the tournament goes on, we will understand what the teams are doing individually. The World Cup is too far ahead. We have to play many matches before that. It will be nice for us to play one tournament and then move forward.”