Defending champions India will be up against arch-rivals Pakistan in their second match of the Asia Cup on September 19 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai. In the absence of regular captain Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma will be leading the side in the tournament. Virat Kohli has been rested for the competition to help his aching back after a gruelling tour of England. But Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed refused to accept Virat Kohli’s absence will make much difference.
“No doubt he (Kohli) is their captain and a world-class batsman but I think they (India) have a good team even without Kohli,” Sarfraz told media on Monday, a day after his team thumped qualifiers Hong Kong in their first match of the tournament.
“They have good players who have done well for India. So I don’t think it will make much difference to India. Their batting is very strong so I can say that it will be a good match,” the Pakistan captain said.
Sarfraz Ahmed, who led Pakistan in that memorable Champions Trophy triumph, denied that his team will have a psychological advantage.
“We will not take that Champions Trophy win in our minds,” Sarfraz said.
“That was a different atmosphere (in London) and conditions. It was a year ago so that’s history so we will enter the ground with a new strategy and passion,” he said.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly also predicted that the high-voltage Asia Cup clash between India and Pakistan would be an even contest.
“It will be a 50-50 contest between India and Pakistan,” Ganguly said on the sidelines of a promotional event.
Asked if regular captain Kohli’s absence would be a factor, Ganguly said, “Virat Kohli’s absence won’t be a factor, they are a better side.”
India are the most successful side in the Asia Cup, having won the title a total of six times, while Pakistan have won twice.