When India and Pakistan play, it’s always exciting – Suresh Raina

Speaking from his experience of the fixture Suresh Raina says that whenever India and Pakistan meet it is an exciting affair.

Raina played in T20 World Cup matches against Pakistan in 2014 and 2016 and says that the pressure to perform in these games is immense.

India meet Pakistan in the fourth game of the Super 12s phase on Sunday 24 October with both teams looking to maintain a streak.

While India have never lost a T20 World Cup match to Pakistan, their foes have never lost a T20I in Dubai.

Raina believes the victor will be the team that remains calm in the storm.

“My experience in matches against Pakistan was that they always played their hearts out,” Raina wrote in a column for the ICC.

“The two teams met at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup for the first time in the group stages in 2007, when India won in a bowl-out.

“When India and Pakistan play, it’s always exciting and good for fans to watch. Many millions of people tune in and expect to be entertained – they are never disappointed.

“That was true from the start at the T20 World Cup and then they met in the final of the first tournament, with India winning by five runs.

“I was involved in the games in 2014 and 2016. If you ask me, as a player, it was always a high-pressure game. In the build-up, everyone is just telling you how big it is.

India players must win it for Virat Kohli says Suresh Raina

“You need to make sure you calm your nerves, focus on the process and play 40 overs of good cricket. It’s easier said than done, but it’s the only way to try to win that game.

“It’s all about handling the pressure and enjoying the game – if you can. That’s what India have always done over the years, and tried to go out and do it for our country.”

India vs Pakistan, Virat Kohli vs Babar Azam

Raina added that he feels that the battle between the skippers Babar Azam and Virat Kohli ramps up the intensity of the clash with both desperate to be the best in the world.

“This year, it will be exciting as both Virat Kohli and Babar Azam are excellent leaders, and knowing how important the game is, there will be so much passion on show from both teams. You know that the captains will set the example on that front, and that passion filters through to the rest of the team.

Babar Azam backs Pakistan to win T20 World Cup opener against India

“Babar is one of the leading T20I batters in the world. Like Virat Kohli, he is proof that good batting and good captaincy go hand in hand.

“The good thing from an Indian perspective is that there is a really strong line-up of experienced players with Virat joined by Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja as leaders of the team. Thanks to the IPL, our team has a lot of experience of playing in the UAE and dealing with the conditions there which should stand them in good stead.

“On the other hand, the fact that Babar has senior players around him like Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will help him because this is still the first major tournament in which he is captaining the team.

“It’s going to be a very good contest with Virat in one corner and Babar in another. They are both really competitive guys who know what the rivalry is all about.

“The fans have enjoyed this rivalry over the years and it is cricket at its best. “